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Digital Platforms: A Review and Future Directions

Author: Shahrukh Hasan
by Shahrukh Hasan
Posted: Apr 25, 2020

Digital technologies present opportunities for enterprise leaders to rethink their business to create better experiences for customers, employees, and ecosystem partners, and to lower costs. When companies act to take advantage of these opportunities through digital transformation, they undertake two primary activities: building a digital platform and building a new operating model.

Both these activities must happen concurrently, and that presents a pitfall: A company is limited in how far it can go in changing its operating model unless the digital platform succeeds. Approaching this pitfall incorrectly causes many digital transformation initiatives to fail

Digital Platforms: A Review and Future Directions:- Abstract

The increasing adoption of digital platforms as a new mode of organizing economic and

social activities has led to a growing interest in research on this topic amongst IS scholars.

As a result, the digital platforms literature has grown significantly over the last decade. Yet,

scholars call for more research on the topic as platforms evolve and many questions remain

unanswered. There is therefore a need to take stock of the existing literature in order to gain

better visibility of what has been achieved and what directions future research can take. We

conducted a systematic review of the literature on digital platforms including 96 articles,

covering IS and management journals. Key findings of this study show an ambiguity in the

current conceptualization of digital platforms. They also highlight the multi-dimensional

nature of digital platforms which reflects the heterogeneity of their manifestations in


Keywords: Literature review, Digital platforms, Platform design and deployment, Platform adoption

and outcomes, Definitions of digital platform, Future directions


Digital platforms have become a major mode for organizing a wide range of human activities,

including economic, social, and political interactions (e.g., Tan et al. 2015; Kane et al. 2014). In

particular, the rise of digital platforms has transformed the landscape of multiple industries such as

transportation (e.g., Uber, Grab), hospitality (e.g., Airbnb, CouchSurfing), and software development

(e.g., Apple iOS, Google android). Enterprises that have leveraged the affordances of digital platforms

have achieved significant growth in size and scale. For instance, digital platform providers in the areas

of e-commerce and software development have attained more than $700 billion in market value

(Evans and Gawer 2016). As a result, digital platforms have become an attractive business model and

strategy, and a promising engine of economic growth for a number of sectors.

The prominence of this phenomenon and its dependence on IT capabilities have led to increasing

interest in researching digital platforms amongst Information Systems (IS) scholars (e.g., Tiwana

2015; Kwark et al. 2017; Markus and Loebbecke 2013; Parker et al. 2017). Prior empirical and

conceptual studies have examined platforms from different angles, such as the growth of platform-

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Author: Shahrukh Hasan

Shahrukh Hasan

Member since: Mar 11, 2020
Published articles: 43

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