Platform Theory

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Strategic Decisions for Multisided Platforms

Some of the fastest growing businesses in recent years — companies such as Facebook, eBay and LinkedIn — are “multisided platforms” that enable interactions between two or more sets of participants. The spectacular success of some of these MSPs has caught the attention of many entrepreneurs and investors. But building a multisided platform business requires savvy decisions on everything from design to governance to pricing.

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The Inside and Outside View of Innovation

How can companies ensure that a promising initiative receives the necessary resources? And why do so many brilliant inventions fail while other seemingly mediocre offerings succeed? Such questions are addressed in two recent books — Unrelenting Innovation: How to Build a Culture for Market Dominance by Gerard J. Tellis and The Wide Lens: A New Strategy for Innovation by Ron Adner. The first book concentrates on a company’s internal workings, while the latter focuses on its external environment.

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Dethroning an Established Platform

Increasing numbers of companies, whether providing hardware devices, traditional software or software in the cloud, are trying to become platform masters by releasing application programming interfaces that allow others to build software and hardware products or complementary services on top of their offerings.

But what can you do when a competitor has already established a leading platform? Learn from Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Gmail and Facebook — and how they overtook earlier market leaders.

Michael A. Cusumano, professor of management, MIT Sloan School of Management

How to Innovate When Platforms Won’t Stop Moving

In this interview, MIT Sloan School of Management professor of management Michael Cusumano discusses traits that will help companies through disruptive transitions. One trait is agility, which has four principles: capabilities rather than strategy; pull rather than push concepts; economies of scope rather than scale; and an emphasis on flexibility rather than efficiency. A second trait is deep, differentiating capabilities, which can be found in processes (such as supply-chain management).

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