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Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You Paperback – August 29, 2017
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“Thorough and often provocative.”
- Jeremy G. Philips, The Wall Street Journal
“An authoritative guide to the role of online platforms: what they are, how they work, and what they mean for business and economics. Platform Revolution demystifies the concept by providing clear prose, insightful examples, and practical lessons.”
- Hal Varian, chief economist, Google, and author of Information Rules
“Platforms have transformed the economy over the last two decades, but the biggest effects are yet to come. Platform Revolution provides the first comprehensive framework for platform strategy and for predicting the winners and losers of future disruptions.”
- Susan C. Athey, Stanford University, former chief economist, Microsoft
“Platform Revolution is a manual for the disruption of your industry. You can either read it or try to keep it out of the hands of your competitors―present and future. I think it’s an easy call.”
- Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at MIT, coauthor of The Second Machine Age
“Platform Revolution provides an exceptional synthesis of cutting-edge research that makes it must-reading for my MBA students. A key insight is that platform strategies can benefit all participants when they understand the underlying economics. Read the book and share it with your business partners. You’ll be glad you did.”
- Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT Sloan School, coauthor of The Second Machine Age
“In a very cohesive and comprehensive way, the authors provide deep conceptual insights and rich practical advice on platforms, the most important business organizations of our time.”
- Ming Zeng, chief strategy officer, Alibaba
“In the digital economy, platforms are transforming industries at high speed. Platform Revolution is an inspiring guide for business leaders to transform existing businesses to platform businesses.”
- Jim Hagemann-Snabe, former CEO of SAP
About the Author
Geoffrey Parker is a professor of engineering at Dartmouth College and a visiting scholar and research fellow at the MIT Initiative for the Digital Economy. Before joining academia, he held positions in engineering and finance at General Electric. He has made significant contributions to the economics of network effects as co-developer of the theory of two-sided networks. Parker's work has been supported by the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and numerous corporations. Parker advises senior leaders in government and business and is a frequent speaker at conferences and industry events. He received his BS from Princeton and his MS and PhD from MIT.
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Platform Revolution has many strong points.It explains the feedback loops and network effects (positive and negative) that drive platform business dynamics, the chapter on monetization is excellent and the chapter on governance is a must read (I think I will send a copy to Vancouver's mayor). The book even has a short section on data ownership, which is likely to emerge as a major social issue over the next decade (ask yourself, why does the company I work for own my employee records, why don't I own them too!).
Platform Revolution is not perfect of course. My main complaint is the lack of useful diagrams. The book is sketch poor and I found that I had to keep a notebook and pencil beside me as I read to make sure I was following all of the interactions of forces and to give me some mnemonics to remember what I was reading. This is good in that it helped me to build up my own mental models, but I would prefer to have shared sketches that I could use in business planning with other people. I also found the characterization of the two sides of a market as 'producers' and 'consumers' limiting. This is not a useful model to describe many two-sided market interactions, as the authors themselves noticed when they talked about dating sites (dating sites are a good thing to study to learn a lot about very dynamic two-sided markets). I also found the discussion of Porter's Five Forces to be simplistic and dismissive. This seems to be an MIT thing as other people associated with MIT have the same blinkers. A more useful approach would be to look at how each aspect of the five forces gets drawn into platform markets.
There are some other good books to read on this theme. I would also recommend Platform Ecosystems by Amrit Tiwana, Matchmakers by David Evans and Modern Monopolies by Moazed and Johnson. But Platform Revolution is an excellent place to start.
The pros are that the book is well organized, well written, and the authors have given clear definitions and names to various elements of platform businesses. I was on the edge between giving it 3 stars or 2. Amazon's description of 2 stars is "I don't like it", which sums up my opinion.