Identifying Critical Properties of Digital Platform Ecosystems

Question for the Online Discussion:

What do you think are the most useful, critical, and game changing properties of digital platform ecosystems that change the way that business is conducted— and why?  Similarly, what challenges and opportunities do these new properties bring? Use examples as needed to illustrate.

Instructions for Report #1 write-up:  


It is now September 2022 and your USC MBA/MS/MA credential is now proudly displayed on your LinkedIn page. Your ornate certificate is also proudly hanging in your office at work/home. This could be your current employer or a future employer. The CEO of the company or the Senior Executive who heads your division (you pick) has heard that during your recent graduate program at the USC Marshall School of Business you took an MBA class on “Business Models for Digital Platforms” with a Professor El Maui (or was it El Wawy..?) and Professsor Stockholm? They have heard that you have discussed the movement in business from pipelines to platforms, and to new rules of strategy that go beyond competitive advantage and towards managing communities and ecosystems.  And the CEO/senior executive understands that you have studied digital platform ecosystems and have read cases, articles, a large part of a platform revolution 2016 book and discussed issues around that – and They want to seek your wisdom. 

The CEO/Senior Executive Request:

The CEO/Senior Executive is convinced that industry after industry will be transformed to be based on digital platforms and new digital platform ecosystems that cross industry boundaries will be created. And it is just a question of when rather than if. They have been watching some  years ago how UnderArmour transformed itself from being in the apparel business to being in the networked fitness business using a digital platform ecosystem strategy –and how it tried to become a platform business. As a consumer, the CEO/Senior Exec has used Airbnb, Expedia, Amazon, Netflix, YouTube,… and has also experientially observed the digital platform ecosystems that have developed around them.

The CEO/Senior Executive is interested in understanding the critical issues related to moving the company/division to a digital platform business model strategy should they not have one, or enhancing their existing digital platform business model strategy should they already have one. The idea is for them to better understand the ramifications of moving to a multi-sided platform (MSP) business model and how to do it well.

The CEO/Senior Executive would like you to write a memo to them. The memo should explain 5 important business practices that the company/division should do differently, should they decide to move to a digital platform business model or enhance their existing one to be a full-fledged MSP.

The Memo Structure Guidelines

1- Context:

Please specify the company/division and briefly describe what the company does. Please do not use any of the case companies ((Bytedance + GE + Intuit + Linkedin + Niantic + Pinduoduo +UBER) used in this class or companies that would obviously not ask you this question such as Amazon or Ali Baba. Please don’t use generic descriptions (like saying it is a “technology” company) but briefly explain with some contextual characterization what the company does. It could be your current employer or your future employer or desired employer. It can be large or small. It can be in any country or global. It can be for profit or non-profit or a government agency.

2- Pick 5 Critical Properties of Digital Platform Ecosystems:

The CEO/Senior Executive has picked the number 5 because they does not want a long shopping list but rather a focused and clear memo that they do something useful with — also to push you to choose the ones you will mention. Just label them Property #1, #2, etc.. and explain each one and be sure to also explain why each of them is important, critical, or game changing.

3- Changed Business Practices

For each of these 5 critical properties of digital platform ecosystems, describe the changed business practice(s) that would be triggered in your company.  Please explain those in the context of the company’s business rather than in the abstract.

They would very much prefer for the structure of the format for changed business practices (or strategies) not to be generically bland but to be in the format of “the company will need do this/but not that” or “do this instead of that” or ”do this in addition to that” or “do this that we did not do before” so they can clearly understand the changes that would have to be brought about. They also appreciate any cautionary warning or challenges you would like to point out. Use of example illustrations are always helpful and appreciated.

  1. Making the CEO/Senior Executive Happy:

Your CEO/Senior Executive will be happiest based on the criticality of the 5 issues that you choose and how you justify them and illustrate them. The clearer, and more actionable and convincing your reasoning is, the better.  The CEO expects you to draw on readings that you have been exposed to and have systematic well-justified answers rather than “shooting from the hip.”  So, they are happiest when it is both precise and most useful to them. Use of example illustrations are always helpful and appreciated.

5- Length and Format:

The CEO/Senior Executive is not picky about length or format of memo, but focus is much preferred to rambling and filler text. He/she imagines that about a page on each issue is reasonable. They are quite happy with well-articulated bullet points rather than an essay style. Use of example illustrations from other contexts can also be very helpful to explain.

Advice from Omar and Inge:  Genuinely immerse yourself in the scenario of the question i.e. put yourself in that situation and respond with that mindset. Business plan assignment help.

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