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Managing Digital Platforms and Ecosystems

Course overview

The rise of the platform economy has brought on radical changes to the way we work, socialize and create value. Digital platforms such as Airbnb, Google, Amazon, Salesforce, GitHub and many more act as service-providers, marketplaces, sales-channels, mediators or hubs for data, code and tools. Platforms may be global enterprises or local niche players. They may follow a pure online strategy or be part of a hybrid business model. They may be for profit entities or embody community-based prosocial movements. They may be value drivers themselves or channels in the marketing mix. What all players in the platform economy have in common is their basic building block – the platform. Good platforms are rooted in a consistent strategy, they are intuitive in their architecture, convincing in their design with content that is highly accessible through organic web searches and they fit seamlessly into the broader platform ecosystem. Today’s decision-makers will not only have to engage with platforms as a part of their daily work, but they also need to be able to understand, develop and manage digital platforms. This course will take you through all stages of a platform development project combining theory on platform and content strategizing, insight from practitioners and hands-on work with user experience management tools.

Academic year


Duration and dates

2 weeks from June 19 to July 1, 2022

Teaching format

face-to-face on-campus


Dorothee Witte


Christian Fieseler is professor for communication management at BI Norwegian Business School and a director of the Nordic Centre for Internet and Society. He received his PhD in Management and Economics from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, in 2008. At the former he worked as a postdoctoral researcher, as well as at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and at Stanford University, before joining BI, in 2014. Christian’s research is focused on the question of how individuals and organizations adapt to the shift brought by new, digital media, and how to design participative and inclusive spaces in this new media regime. In this field, he has over the last years, worked extensively on technology and new collaboration modes in projects with the European Union and the Norwegian Research Council.

Mark Boons is an assistant professor in the Knowledge, Information, and Innovation (KIN) research group at Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He joined the VU in 2019 after 5 years as an assistant professor of Business Information Management at the Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands, where he also received his PhD in Management in 2014. His research interests lie at the intersection of IT, innovation, and organization. Specifically, his research focuses on how individuals experience working (on innovation tasks) by means of digital platforms. He currently works with several gig economy platforms to understand how the strategy and design of the platform drives worker behavior. His work has been published in leading management and innovation journals, such as Journal of Management Studies and Research Policy and presented at both academic and practitioner conferences.

Philip Meier is an associated researcher at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) and responsible for Business Operations and Partnerships at the Berlin-based technology Startup Peregrine Technologies. He further has been a doctoral student at the Institute for Electronic Business (IEB) since 2018. As part of his dissertation, Philip is conducting research in governance and business model development for digital platforms in B2B markets. Prior to his research at IEB & HIIG, Philip gained practical experience in the Group Digitalization Department at Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, where he was responsible for manufacturing-related business model innovation and the Industry 4.0 strategy.

Learning outcomes

This course takes on the perspective of a decision-maker on the business-side of a platform project and will enable you to initiate, plan and manage a platform development project. Participants will gain a fundamental understanding of the platform economy and its basic building block – the digital platform. In particular, they will learn how to set up their own platform strategy and which steps to take on the way to a deployable platform. Furthermore, they will learn to go beyond the launch of their platform and maintain a digital innovation pipeline for their digital product.

Course content

  1. Platform Strategy
    1. Understanding the Audience (gains, pains, goals)
    2. Understanding the Market (learn from the best in class)
    3. Vision & Goals
    4. Setting up the PMO (Timing, Resources, Scope)
  2. Architecture and Design
    1. Defining and prioritizing key features
    2. Setting up the structure/architecture
    3. Defining a design (CI/CD)
  1. Building and Scaling the Platform
    1. Agile vs. Waterfall Development
    2. Testing and Prototyping
    3. Pitfalls to avoid
    4. Self-Development vs. integrating partners (build, partner, invest)
    5. Cornerstones of successful Collaborations
  1. Creating the right Content
    1. Setting up the editorial plan
    2. Reaching the right audiences
      1. Setting up a SEO Strategy
      2. Setting up a SEA Strategy
    3. Working with Content Creators (e.g. Influencers, Journalists etc.)
  1. Monitoring, Maintenance and continuous Refinement
    1. Defining key-metrics and KPIs (quant)
    2. Setting up a measurement dashboard
    3. Continuously learning from user behavior (quant and qual)
    4. Maintaining an active innovation pipeline
  1. Incorporating fair design principles
    1. Ensuring universal Accessibility
    2. Designing Privacy and Participation Mechanisms

Course value


Required background

Students are required to have completed one semester of coursework at master level in one of the participating business schools.


The participants will be asked to work on five interlocking tasks, as outlined above. In groups of up to three students, they

  • first develop an idea for a platform of their choosing and detail their initial vision in writing of up to five pages. This writeup contains not only the vision of their platform, but also a description of their envisioned market, and a persona-based description of their core audience.
  • second, students will create a first wireframe prototype of their platform, mapping out an initial user experience and guidance through the offering, again in writing of up to five pages, including a wireframe walkthrough with description
  • third, students will create a realization plan, on the strategic level, how they will realize the platform, again in writing of up to five pages and identifying key resources and partners to implement their idea.
  • fourth, students will draft an initial content plan, in writing of up to five pages, with which contents they will engage their audience and how they plan their SEO strategy (their tactical plan)
  • fifth, students will write a final evaluation of their idea, of up to five pages, that includes the definition of performance metrics, and a plan for the continuous improvement of their application.
  • Finally, student groups will present their entire platform project including strategy, structure and content in class. Presentations will be 15mins including a pitch of their platform (10mins) as well as a brief in-class discussion (5mins). Furthermore, each student group will be asked to offer nuanced feedback to another group in class (5mins).


  • Yoffie, D. B., Gawer, A., & Cusumano, M. A. (2019). A study of more than 250 platforms a reveal why most fail. Harvard Business Review.
  • Westerman, G., Soule, D. L., & Eswaran, A. (2019). Building digital-ready culture in traditional organizations. MIT Sloan Management Review, 60(4), 59-68.
  • Hill, L.A. (2020). Being the agile boss. MIT Sloan Management Review,
  • Bunce, M., Wright, K., & Scott, M. (2018). ‘Our newsroom in the cloud’: Slack, virtual newsrooms and journalistic practice. new media & society20(9), 3381-3399.
  • Chen, X., Wei, S., Davison, R. M., & Rice, R. E. (2019). How do enterprise social media affordances affect social network ties and job performance?. Information Technology & People.
  • Van Alstyne, M. W., Parker, G. G., & Choudary, S. P. (2016). Pipelines, platforms, and the new rules of strategy. Harvard business review94(4), 54-62.
  • Van Alstyne, M., Parker, G., & Choudary, S. P. (2016). 6 Reasons Platforms Fail, Harvard Business Review. Digital Article.
  • Williams, R. L., & Cothrel, J. (2000). Four smart ways to run online communities. MIT Sloan Management Review41(4), 81.
  • Hollebeek, L. D., Juric, B., & Tang, W. (2017). Virtual brand community engagement practices: a refined typology and model. Journal of Services Marketing.

Extra cost

Costs for accommodation and travel have to be paid by the student. We offer student accommodation close to the campus.

Miscellaneous information


About the School

BI Norwegian Business Schoo- is an internationally recognized non-profit private institution and the only Norwegian business school with the prestigious interna­tional triple-crown accreditation: EQUIS, AACSB and AMBA. We are one of Europe’s largest business schools with around 20.000 students. Our purpose-built Campus Nydalen provides an exciting and inspiring learning environment.