Strategy and Innovation

Platform Strategy: Building and Thriving in a Vibrant Ecosystem

Dates: Jun 23-24, 2014

Certificate Track: Strategy and Innovation

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tuition: $3,300 (excluding accommodations)

Program Days (for certificate credit): 2

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NEW FOR 2014

With the explosion of the Internet, many companies are leveraging a rapidly developing dimension of strategy:  platform thinking.  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.  While many of these platforms 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.

This course draws on recent MIT Sloan research and lessons learned by companies that have grown out of the innovative ecosystem around MIT.   Participants will be exposed to strategic thinking and tools beyond what is found in most traditional approaches to enterprise and product strategy. 

Key questions the faculty explores include:

  • Is a customer segment with the highest “willingness to pay” the most valuable segment?
  • When is tying customers 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”?

By engaging with these questions and a variety of examples, experienced managers will emerge with insights for refreshing their company’s strategic approach and participating 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 multi-sided 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.

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

Some comments from the students in the MBA course on which this program is based:

“Great course, great professors! Very good learning experience. Thanks.”

“Catherine’s enthusiasm for the subject was contagious. The subject was taught in a very engaging manner.”

“The course content is excellent and may just transform the way you currently execute your organization’s product development strategy.” 

Please note that faculty are subject to change and not all faculty teach in each session of the program.

  • Pierre Azoulay

    Sloan Distinguished Associate Professor of Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management

    Pierre Azoulay joined the MIT Sloan School faculty in July 2006. In his research, he investigates how organizational design and social networks influence the productivity of R&D in the health care sector. Currently, he is studying the impact of superstar researchers on the research productivity of their colleagues in the academic life sciences... ... (more)
  • Catherine Tucker

    Mark Hyman, Jr. Career Development Professor
    Associate Professor of Marketing

    Catherine Tucker is the Mark Hyman Jr. Career Development Professor and Associate Professor of Marketing at MIT Sloan. Her research interests lie in how technology allows firms to use digital data to improve their operations and marketing and in the challenges this poses for regulations designed to promote innovation... ... (more)
08:00 AM - 10:00 AMWhat is a "platform"?
10:00 AM - 12:00 PMPlatform Customer Behavior
12:00 PM - 01:00 PMLunch
01:00 PM - 03:00 PMEconomics of Platform Competition: Frameworks
03:00 PM - 05:00 PMEconomics of Platform Competition: Application
08:00 AM - 10:00 AMPlatform Pricing: Frameworks
10:00 AM - 12:00 PMPlatform Pricing: Application
12:00 PM - 01:00 PMLunch
01:00 PM - 03:00 PMBuilding and Staging the Platform Ecosystem
03:00 PM - 05:00 PMPlatform Thinking for the Non-Platform Business

  • The program will cover these cases and important examples of platform strategy:

    • Skylanders
    • Keurig
    • Akamai
    • Ebooks
    • Dropbox v. Google Drive
    • Roppongi Hills
    • E-Harmony
    • BluRay v. HD DVD
    • Netflix v. HBO v. Hulu v. Amazon prime
    • Uber v. Lyft
    • The “Digital Oilfield”


Featured Faculty

Catherine Tucker

Catherine Tucker is the Mark Hyman Jr. Career Development Professor and Associate Professor of Marketing at MIT Sloan... more
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