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An inquiry into the nature and causes of digital platforms
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

While the shape and nature of platforms varies across different instances, they pursue common ambitions such as reduction of risk, complexity, or transaction costs. Although initially theorised in industrial contexts, subsequent theorising regarding platform development, platform ecosystems, and platform strategy has drawn upon studies of high-tech industries in general and IT-based platforms in particular. While the inherent malleability of digitised data and digital technology offers possibilities, they also make it difficult to pin down the locus of a low-variety platform core. As such, one of the fundamental properties of digital platforms is rather mundane: to provide stability. With that in mind, this thesis pursues the following research question: How can a digital platform maintain stability for its stakeholders in the face of constant technical change? This thesis utilises affordance theory as a means to operationalise a relational view of digital platform, where stability is assessed in relation to stakeholders rather than technical persistence. This dissertation is based on an interpretive case study, primarily using qualitative data in the form of interviews gathered as part of two separate projects that varied both in scope and orientation. The thesis offers two main contributions. First, the idea of platform stability as derived from low-variety components that are persistent over time is difficult to apply in relation to digital platforms. Rather, we need to approach stability as a composite property, based on the ability of the platform to satisfy technical-, informational-, and social expectations. Hence, stability should not be considered as a fixed or absolute property, but rather a moving target. Second, this thesis suggests that the existing notion of (technical) coring needs to be complemented with information coring and social coring when applied to digital platforms. The proposed concept of information coring expresses the ability to hide complexity and present bottom-line results to the user in a comprehensible manner. Social coring refers to the idea of aligning technical integration and social integration in a platform. A relational perspective applied to digital platforms offers a possible avenue for theorising digital platforms as information systems artefacts rather than the dichotomous relationship between platform-as-architecture and platform-as-marketplace found in extant literature.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet , 2016. , 118 p.
Series
Research reports in informatics, ISSN 1401-4572 ; RR-16.02
Keyword [en]
Digital platform, platform strategy, platform development, stability, affordance theory, qualitative study
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-127430ISBN: 978-91-7601-600-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-127430DiVA: diva2:1045898
Public defence
2016-12-07, MA121, MIT-building, Umeå University, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-11-16 Created: 2016-11-11 Last updated: 2016-11-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Here Today, Here Tomorrow: Considering Options Theory in Digital Platform Development
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Here Today, Here Tomorrow: Considering Options Theory in Digital Platform Development
2014 (English)In: Creating Value for All Through IT: IFIP WG 8.6 International Conference on Transfer and Diffusion of IT, TDIT 2014, Aalborg, Denmark, June 2-4, 2014. Proceedings / [ed] Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Peter Axel Nielsen, Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, 2014, 243-260 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Past decades have seen business platforms proliferate not only as a means to collaborate, but also decrease time-to-market and promote innovation. However, extant literature tends to dichotomise platforms, perceiving them as either strategic resources or technical systems. Applied to digital platforms, we argue that options theory offers a potential means to reconcile the operand and operant perspectives of platform artefacts. We illustrate our point via a case study of a firm that has gradually developed a product that enables mobile communication into a digital platform that provides a wide range of customers with services from several different suppliers. This study contributes to our understanding of digital platforms as it describes how design choices by a provider can affect flexibility and continued development of new services.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, 2014
Series
, IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology, ISSN 1868-4238 ; 429
Keyword
Digital platform, digital options, options value, real options, ecosystem
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-89875 (URN)10.1007/978-3-662-43459-8_15 (DOI)978-3-662-43458-1 (ISBN)
Available from: 2014-06-13 Created: 2014-06-13 Last updated: 2016-11-15Bibliographically approved
2. Platform establishment: A case study of entrepreneurial alertness
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Platform establishment: A case study of entrepreneurial alertness
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Faced with an environment of technological uncertainties, software platforms have gained interest as an enabler of innovative businesses and development processes. Extant research is however largely limited to studies that explore the benefits of mature platforms. Considerably less is known regarding the establishment of platforms. Drawing inspiration from a life-cycle perspective, the purpose of this study is to develop a conceptual model for software platform establishment based on entrepreneurial alertness. We develop a framework based on entrepreneurial alertness that describes four types of awareness: market, resources, technology, and context. Based on a qualitative case study of an emerging platform, we contribute to literature on platform strategy by studying entrepreneurial behavior during the establishment of a software platform. Our study indicates that all four types of awareness are necessary in order to market a platform to customers and attract 3rd party interest.

Keyword
Platform establishment, platform strategy, entrepreneurial alertness, case study
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-127429 (URN)
Available from: 2016-11-11 Created: 2016-11-11 Last updated: 2016-11-15
3. The Inter-organizational Dynamics of a Platform Ecosystem: Exploring Stakeholder Boundaries
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Inter-organizational Dynamics of a Platform Ecosystem: Exploring Stakeholder Boundaries
2016 (English)In: 2016 49th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, IEEE Computer Society, 2016, 5167-5176 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The Internet of Things (IoT) creates a myriad of new business opportunities that focus on collecting, transmitting, and analyzing product data. IoT collaborations bring together diverse firms with separate skill-sets that both produce and utilize digitized data to co-create value. While previous research has explored the technical implications of IoT in great detail, it has largely ignored the business implications of such endeavors. In this paper, we focus on the early stages of the emerging inter-organizational relationships that IoT enables and ask the question: How can the inter-organizational dynamics between disparate actors in an IoT ecosystem be perceived and understood? By conducting a qualitative case study and tracing four types of organizational boundaries: efficiency, power, competence and identity, we show how firm boundaries are emergent, dynamic, and constantly negotiated between firms. Allowing for and understanding this relational interplay is crucial in order for IoT ecosystems to thrive and grow.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IEEE Computer Society, 2016
Series
, Proceedings of the Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, ISSN 1060-3425
Keyword
Internet of Things, Organizational Boundaries, Platform Ecosystems, Case Study
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-114440 (URN)10.1109/HICSS.2016.639 (DOI)000377358205025 ()978-0-7695-5670-3 (ISBN)
Conference
Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), January 5-8, 2016, Grand Hyatt Kauai
Funder
VINNOVA, 2014-05143
Note

This research is partially financed by the Vinnova project "Uppkopplade Professionella Produkter – Tekniska & Affärsmässiga behov (UPPTA)".

Available from: 2016-01-19 Created: 2016-01-19 Last updated: 2016-11-15Bibliographically approved
4. Platform Provider by Accident: A Case Study of Digital Platform Coring
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Platform Provider by Accident: A Case Study of Digital Platform Coring
2016 (English)In: Business & Information Systems Engineering, ISSN 1867-0202, Vol. 58, no 3, 177-191 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Recent years have witnessed the rapid emergence of digital technology as not just an enabler, but indeed a material basis for platform development. However, extant platform literature does not adequately address strategies related to digital platforms. Specifically, the notion of platform coring does not consider how a core is to be identified or the nature of a core in relation to entangled physical and digital materiality. This paper presents a single-case study of a digital platform for business-to-business services. Results suggest that rather than a specific platform element, the core of a digital platform may be described as a capability to harness the potential of digital technology. Furthermore, platform coring may be aided by adopting value propositions as a means to conceptualize the process of negotiating mutual benefit among platform stakeholders. This study contributes to the understanding of digital platform establishment as it addresses the notion of coring and the emergent process related to the distributed ontology of digital technology and a situated perception of value.

Keyword
Digital platforms, Platform establishment, Platform coring, Service-orientation, Value proposition, Case study
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-120269 (URN)10.1007/s12599-016-0426-4 (DOI)000377899300003 ()
Available from: 2016-05-13 Created: 2016-05-13 Last updated: 2016-11-15Bibliographically approved

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