Model 2:
Digital Platform Map

1 August 2019
What is a digital platform and can one emerge in my industry?

Key Definitions

A platform is any type of system that facilitates many-to-many interactions (M2M). An example of a platform in the physical world is a marketplace, as it lets multiple sellers interact with multiple buyers. This is quite different than a store, that works on a one-to-many basis.
Digitalization has enabled a variety of platforms to emerge in cyberspace. These digital platforms are M2M systems that intermediate between participants, helping them to connect and exchange something of value.

Conceptual Model

The Digital Platform Map differentiates between six different types of digital platforms, based on the different forms of exchange being facilitated. Each of the six types is also illustrated by a number of well-known examples.

Key Elements

The six digital platform categories all revolve around a different sort of matchmaking that is facilitated:

  1. Digital marketplace. In a digital marketplace, multiple buyers are matched to multiple suppliers. connects guests to hotels, while Uber links travellers to drivers. Note that Amazon started off as a one-to-many online store, but has developed into a platform by allowing other suppliers to sell through their system.
  2. Digital search. In a digital search platform, multiple people looking for information are matched to multiple sources of information. As a search request triggers the system to actively seek out the desired information, it is often also called a search engine. Google, Bing and Baidu are general purpose search platforms, but many specialized ones exist, such as Foursquare, that helps to find services close by.
  3. Digital repository. In a digital repository, multiple suppliers ‘deposit’ their materials into a type of library, to be retrieved by users at a later moment. In other words, the matchmaking is not immediate, but it can take days, weeks or years for people to view a YouTube video, listen to a song on Spotify or download software from GitHub.
  4. Digital communication. A digital communication platform is a system that allows multiple users to send messages and/or documents to a variety of other people, or interact in real time via voice as well as video. While some of these digital communication platforms have their own dedicated technical networks, companies like Skype, Snapchat and WhatsApp are internet-based.
  5. Digital community. On a digital community platform, people who want to remain virtually connected for a longer period of time can find each other, hook up and exchange information with one another. Facebook lets one build one’s own network of friends, but also facilitates other groupings, while LinkedIn plays a similar role in the business context.
  6. Digital payment. On a digital payment platform, matching takes place between those owing money and those wanting to be paid. Some of these payment platforms, like Adyen, work ‘behind the scenes’ on behalf of companies, while others like PayPal and Apple Pay are directed at online consumers. Note that an increasing number of community and marketplace platforms, like WeChat and Amazon are extending into payments.

Key Insights

  • New form of intermediation. With the rise of the internet many people thought intermediaries would be cut out (disintermediation), but in practice a whole new category has
    emerged – digital platforms – based on the concept of many-to-many (M2M).
  • The value of matching. The digital platform map clarifies that the value of digital platforms is in their ability to matchmake. They reduce inefficiencies by linking supply and demand.
  • Basis of a business model. If a digital platform creates value, it has the potential to grow into a business, if it can be matched to a suitable revenue model to capture that value.
  • Strength of network effects. All platforms profit from the virtuous cycle of many buyers drawing many suppliers, which in turn draws more buyers, ad infinitum. They create and
    sustain their own ecology, which grows more powerful with increasing size.
  • Platforms branching out. While most companies started in one digital platform category, network effects are driving them to invade other categories and become platforms of everything.
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Publication Schedule

June 2024
Time Management Funnel

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Digitalization Staircase

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Leadership Circle Map

March 2024
MOVING Mission Framework

February 2024
BOLD Vision Framework

January 2024
Duty of Care Feedback Model

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Best Practice Sharing Modes

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Stakeholder Stance Map

October 2023
Status Snakes & Ladders

September 2023
Customer-Centricity Circle

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Activity System Dial

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New Pyramid Principle

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Cultural Fabric Model

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Corporate Strategy Framework

April 2023  
Ambition Radar Screen

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Resistance to Change Typology

February 2023   
5I Innovation Pipeline

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Thinking Directions Framework

December 2022      
Corporate Management Styles

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Strategic Action Model 

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Psychological Safety Compass

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The Tree of Power    

August 2022
Value Proposition Dial

July 2022
Sustainable You Model

June 2022
Change Manager’s Toolbox

May 2022
Corporate Value Creation Model

April 2022
Organizational System Map

March 2022
Creativity X-Factor

February 2022
Strategic Alignment Model

January 2022
Market System Map

December 2021
Team Building Cycle

November 2021
Disciplined Dialogue Model

Oktober 2021
Strategy Hourglass

September 2021
Powerhouse Framework

August 2021
Fruits & Nuts Matrix

July 2021
Everest Model of Change

June 2021
Followership Cycle

May 2021
Knowledge Sharing Bridges

April 2021
Innovation Box

March 2021
Empowerment Cycle

February 2021
Digital Distribution Model Dial

January 2021
Digital Product Model Dial

December 2020
4C Leadership Levers

November 2020
Rebound Model of Resilience

October 2020
Strategic Bets Framework

September 2020
Storytelling Scripts

August 2020
7I Roles of the Corporate Center

July 2020
Strategy Development Cycle

June 2020
Rising Star Framework

May 2020
The Control Panel

April 2020
Strategic Agility Model

March 2020
Leadership Fairness Framework

February 2020
11C Synergy Model

January 2020
Competition Tornado

December 2019
Confidence Quotient

November 2019
House of Engagement

October 2019
Revenue Model Framework

September 2019
Interaction Pressure Gauge

August 2019
Digital Platform Map

July 2019
Mind the Gap Model


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