Platform Lab

With digitalization and the rapid emergence of new technologies, firms today are actively seeking to reinvent their business models. The possibilities of exploiting network effects and data analytics motivate many of them to redefine firm boundaries to lean toward more decentralized models of value creation such as digital platforms.

But what strategies and tools do they need to employ to enable this transformation? How should firms with innovative business models compete when a handful of behemoths dominate the world? How do we ensure that such business models enhance social welfare?

At the D^3 Institute, the Platform Lab is building a research-based roadmap for businesses and policymakers. The aim is to give them insights and routes to innovation based on rigorous research.

The lab is built on the six principles that underpin the D^3 Institute. By combining the perspectives of business and operating model transformation, organizational and workforce transformation, performance and metrics, algorithms, AI, ethics, and societal impact it will enable the translation from theory to practice and learn from practice to enable more rigorous science.


The Platform Lab is led by: 

  • Feng Zhu Feng Zhu Headshot Feng Zhu , MBA Class of 1958 Professor of Business Administration. 
  • Chiara Farronato Chira Farronato Headshot Chiara Farronato , Glenn and Mary Jane Creamer Associate Professor of Business Administration. 
  • Michael Luca, Lee J. Styslinger III Associate Professor of Business Administration. 

Activities/Research Focus

The lab is interested in the answers to three broad questions: 

  1. The wellbeing of customers and society
    • What is the impact of new business models on market frictions?
    • How do new business models influence equality, inclusivity, and mobility?
    • Can platforms play a role in cities’ economic development?
  2. Opportunities for innovation
    • What new business models will emerge in the coming years?
    • What role will platforms play in the metaverse?
    • How to launch and grow platform businesses? 
    • Should traditional or incumbent firms compete or partner with entrants with new business models?
    • How can products and services be transformed into platform offerings?
  3. Role of policymakers
    • How should competition and market power be addressed?
    • How to create inclusive platforms and shared value?
    • What can digital leaders do to ensure privacy?

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