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Unpacking the blackbox of digital platforms

Digital Platforms

Mr. Ruonan Sun, Prof. Shirley Gregor

Digital platforms now contribute significantly to many businesses. With digital platforms the fundamental rules of business shift from optimizing internal processes to interacting and coevolving in an ecosystem with disparate players. However, insufficient work has theorized digital platforms systematically. Hence, in my thesis, I develop theory around digital platforms by: 1) building a new integrative digital platform model; and 2) showing how one can use this model as a base to theorize digital platform design and evolution. The new model shows five essential components of a digital platform: a technology core, standards, interoperability, add-ons, and governance. We review relevant literature in relation to each component and develop propositions as to how each component contributes to digital platform evolution. In particular, we focus on generativity in relation to the tension between “openness” and “closure”. Further, I will conduct a comparative case analysis to explore how large enterprise software providers shift from traditional “point solution” to platform-based firms. This paper contributes theoretically by providing a base for theorizing digital platforms from a technology management perspective. It also contributes to practice because practitioners can use the new model as a lens in strategic decision making when designing and developing digital platforms.

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Updated:   6 September 2017 / Responsible Officer:  CBE Communications and Outreach / Page Contact:  College Web Team