Platforms and Ecosystems

Enabling the Digital Economy

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is enabled by new digital and physical technologies with almost limitless applicability – and huge implications for the economy and society. New business models are being leveraged not only by emerging organizations but also by traditional entities, which view them as either complementary to well-established models or as potential replacements of their core businesses. The subsequent economic disruption has indeed been revolutionary. In a few short years, the ranking of most valuable companies by market capitalization has totally shifted to being dominated by one business model – digital platforms and ecosystems.

The World Economic Forum has launched the initiative on Digital Platforms and Ecosystems not only because it is a topic on almost every corporate board’s agenda, but also because digital platform models already dominate our daily lives and our experiences as consumers, employees, community members and citizens. Considering the implications of platform and ecosystem models for society, as well as the opportunities and risks they could present in the future, it seems obvious to aim for broad collaboration between the public and private sectors, between corporate giants and start-ups, and with consumer-rights groups and civil society.

The topic of digital platforms and ecosystems has been a matter of signi cant interest at the World Economic Forum. The objective of this brie ng paper is to synthesize some of the key points that have arisen during an ongoing set of discussions over the last year. We are very grateful to the three authors who collaborated on this brie ng paper, as these academics’ professional work and ideas continue to trigger cross-collaboration and action-oriented interaction. We believe the ideas expressed here offer fertile ground for our stakeholders to continue the conversation.

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