Learn More About Geoff Parker
Why do organizations spend so much money trying to get things done with technology but fail so often? According to Geoff Parker, the Charles E. Hutchinson ’68A Professor of Engineering Innovation and executive director of the Master of Engineering Management Program at Dartmouth College, technology is widely available but not utilized properly, with the necessary data often locked in silos.
An expert on digital transformation, Parker observed the swift rise of platform-based businesses – companies that use technology to connect people, organizations and resources in an interactive ecosystem in which amazing amounts of value can be created and exchanged – like Amazon, Google and Facebook after the dotcom bust of the early 2000s. He and his co-authors were ahead of their time when they published the 2006 article for Harvard Business Review (HBR), “Strategies for Two-Sided Markets,” followed by their bestselling book “Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You” in 2016.
Parker has since harnessed the theory and frameworks for two-sided markets powered by network effects to help non-platform companies successfully convert to a platform model to better compete in their industries.
“Platforms have become an incredibly powerful, lucrative and important phenomenon across the global economy,” says Parker, who was named one of Thinkers50’s top 50 management thinkers in the world in 2021. “Product-based businesses that have not yet converted to a platform model may realize the opportunities they are missing by asking themselves, ‘Do we want to make money by selling stuff or by facilitating transactions?’”
While the most recognizable platform businesses like YouTube and LinkedIn are consumer-focused, through his current research with the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, Parker says a shift is coming. Pointing to companies like Salesforce and SAP, he calls B2B platforms “the next emerging area for platform competition.”
Rethinking Supply Chains in the Digital Era
When discussing supply chains, most think of the long-chain models built decades ago and designed for the lowest cost. Those systems, however, were not prepared for today’s issues which include pandemics, war and climate change, among other global challenges. In this environment where IT and operations departments have converged, Parker says leaders must embrace a digital approach to supply chain management by using the data many organizations have already been collecting for years.
“There are no purely physical supply chains anymore,” explains Parker. “Every physical system is supported by a data system, and vast amounts of data exist for things that move, like ships and trains. Those data need to be harnessed and put to work. By aggregating that data to build digital supply chain systems, organizations can create routes that factor in a large variety of variables. Embracing a digital approach to supply chain management enables leaders to design for factors like lower emissions routes as well as formulate contingencies for unplanned disruptions like geopolitical flare-ups.”
Embrace Modern Value Creation, Close Digital Literacy Gaps and Prosper
Parker urges leaders whose business is embarking on digital transformation to recognize the fact that, more and more, value creation is coming from outside of firms, not inside. By linking different sides of customer networks – such as audiences and advertisers – and embracing the “inverted firm” production model, executives can employ powerful new forms of modern value creation. By closing their own gaps in digital literacy, leaders can take control of their organization’s destiny without exposing internal strategy.
“Don’t outsource the intimate parts of your business such as your users’ actual use cases” Parker cautions. “To effectively harness technology and make use of data to successfully deliver value, you have to know what you don’t know.”
Geoff Parker is the Charles E. Hutchinson ’68A Professor of Engineering Innovation and executive director of the Master of Engineering Management Program at Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering. He is also a visiting scholar and research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Initiative for the Digital Economy. He co-founded and serves as co-chair of the MIT Platform Strategy Summit, and in 2020, he was named a POMS Fellow by the Production and Operations Management Society – a lifetime achievement award. He previously served as director of the Tulane Energy Institute and on the General Electric (GE) Africa technical workforce advisory board.
Parker has made significant contributions to the field of network economics and strategy as co-developer of the theory of “two-sided” markets. His current research includes studies of distributed innovation, business platform strategy and technical/economic systems to integrate renewable energy.
HBR pieces that Parker either authored or co-authored have been included in multiple “Must Read” compilations, including; HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Platforms and Ecosystems (2020), HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategy, Vol. 2 (2020), HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Business Model Innovation (2019), HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2017, and HBR’s 50 Best-Selling Articles. In addition, he was a 2021 co-recipient of the Anti-Trust Writing Awards along with co-author Marshall Van Alstyne. Parker and Van Alstyne’s work was recognized by Thinkers50 in 2023 and 2021 when they were named among the top 50 management thinkers in the world and in 2019 when they won the Digital Thinking Award. In 2023, they were both named Marketplace Thought Leaders by Marketplace 50.
Parker advises senior leaders on their organization’s platform strategies, and he is a frequent speaker at industry events and academic conferences. His research has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and multiple corporations. He also serves or has served as a department or associate editor at various journals and as a National Science Foundation panelist. Parker co-authored the bestselling book “Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You” with Van Alstyne and Sangeet Paul Choudary.
Parker earned an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton University, a Master’s in engineering (Technology and Policy Program) from MIT, and a PhD in management science from MIT.
Geoff Parker is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.
Dartmouth Professor of Engineering Innovation Geoff Parker is a leading expert on digital transformation and leveraging data. Co-author of 2016’s groundbreaking, bestselling book, “Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You,” he’s a valued advisor to leaders of B2B and B2C organizations who are embarking on digital transformation initiatives and contemplating large-scale digital investments. An expert on facilitating productive communication and coordination between operations, IT and the C-suite, Parker helps organizations harness potential and achieve digital literacy. Parker is available to discuss any or all the following topics during one-on-one or small group advisory meetings. Each program can be customized to meet the needs and goals of your organization with the added option of meeting virtually or in person.
- The Platform Revolution
- Creating a Data-Driven Supply Chain
- Achieving Digital Literacy
- The Upcoming Explosion of B2B Platforms
- Using Platforms and Data to Track Compliance
- Why is Healthcare Tech Behind in the Platform Revolution?
Platform Design, Management and Strategy
Firms like Amazon, Facebook, Kloeckner Metals, SAP and Siemens manage ecosystems in which third parties add value. In this interactive workshop, platform strategist Geoff Parker will explain how platform firms operate, disrupt incumbents and modify traditional rules of strategy. He begins by explaining the value and possibilities inherent in a platform model, then works with participants to break down their current business models. Along the way, Parker offers practical, understandable frameworks and opportunities to ask questions.