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Sloan School of Management

Platform Strategy: Building and Thriving in a Vibrant Ecosystem

Participant Christian Abera Degu on Platform Strategy: Building and Thriving in a Vibrant Ecosystem

Next dates

Jun 4—5
2 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 3900
USD 1950 per day
Nov 7—8
2 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 3900
USD 1950 per day


Over the past two decades, some of the most profitable and successful firms are those that have adopted a digital platform model—a strategy whereby the company allows two or more disparate groups to interact over a platform to co-create value; for example, website developers and users on Akamai, recruiters and employees on LinkedIn, and drivers and customers on Uber. In this two-day program, participants eager to develop or launch a digital platform approach will learn why and how their business strategies may need to be revised to be successful.

In 2013, fourteen of the top 30 global brands by market capitalization were platform-oriented companies—companies that created and now dominate arenas in which buyers, sellers, and a variety of third parties are connected in real time. In today’s networked age, the cloud, social media, and mobile devices are fueling this platform competition, and more and more companies want in. However, many companies do not succeed in becoming platform leaders because their technology and/or business strategies fall short.

While many platform strategies are well known (e.g. Apple’s iTunes), there are other less-heralded platforms that are exploring new ways to create and capture value. These include: dynamic pricing, usage fees, highly targeted product and service offerings, inbound marketing, and network effects.

Key questions the faculty explores include:

  • Is a customer segment with the highest “willingness to pay” the most valuable segment?
  • When is tying a customer to a platform (sometimes called “lock in”) counter-productive?
  • Which pricing formats seem to boost revenues but actually slow platform adoption?
  • How can companies get in front of the common evolution patterns of platforms?
  • When should leaders be wary of “platform envy?”

Through case studies and Q&A, experienced managers will emerge with insights into how they can refresh their company’s strategic approach and participate profitably in the multi-sided marketplaces of the future.

By the end of this two-day course, participants should be able to:

  • Identify examples of traditional and non-traditional forms of platforms
  • Describe the common evolution patterns of multisided platforms, including same-side vs. cross-side network effects
  • Identify customer and user groups whose affiliation with the platform is most valuable
  • Decide whether to try to “tie” customers to a platform or not – the value of open vs. proprietary networks
  • Design strategies to undermine an established platform or to defend against such attacks
  • Describe the principles of platform pricing and how to inform the design of an effective pricing format
  • Recognize the concrete implications of trade-offs in platform design, governance, and staging
  • Decide whether a given value proposition is best developed as a stand-alone platform, or as a complement embedded into another platform’s ecosystem…or whether to pivot away from platform strategies all together.

Sample Schedule—Subject to Change


  • 08:00AM - 10:00AM What is a "platform"?
  • 10:00AM - 12:00PM Platform Customer Behavior
  • 12:00PM - 01:00PM Networking Lunch
  • 01:00PM - 03:00PM Economics of Platform Competition: Frameworks
  • 03:00PM - 05:00PM Economics of Platform Competition: Application


  • 08:00AM - 10:00AM Platform Pricing: Frameworks
  • 10:00AM - 12:00PM Platform Pricing: Application
  • 12:00PM - 01:00PM Networking Lunch
  • 01:00PM - 03:00PM Building and Staging the Platform Ecosystem
  • 03:00PM - 05:00PM Platform Thinking for the Non-Platform Business

Who should attend

This course is intended for leaders of:

  • Corporate strategy and business development
  • Marketing
  • Product & service development
  • R&D and innovation
  • Application development and content management


Pierre Azoulay is the Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management and an Associate Professor of Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.Azoulay teaches courses on strategy and technology strategy at MIT Sloan. Previously, he was a...
Catherine Tucker is the Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management and Professor of Marketing at MIT Sloan. She is also Chair of the MIT Sloan PhD Program. Her research interests lie in how technology allows firms to use digital data to improve their operations and marketing, and in the challen...


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