Learn More About Geoff Parker
As organizations continue to respond to the fallout from the pandemic, they are experimenting and innovating in previously unthought of ways to remain competitive. While innovation is important, says Dartmouth Engineering Professor Geoff Parker, what will greatly determine a company’s long-term survival is how well their systems are set up to manage and leverage what comes of that innovation.
Parker’s ongoing research shows the many benefits offered by platform business models, mainly their ability to generate significant revenue opportunities in the digital space by leveraging third-party users.
“This crisis has created a tipping point for a long-overdue conversation about business models,” says Parker, a visiting scholar and research fellow at MIT’s Initiative for the Digital Economy. “Even before the crisis, I was encouraging firms to move to a platform model so they could get in on the enormous opportunities for increasing profits. In our recent World Economic Forum report, we note that how well firms adapt their business models now will determine how well they survive in the post-COVID-19 economy.”
Parker and his co-authors were ahead of their time when they wrote the groundbreaking book “Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You” in 2016. As they witnessed the rapid rise of platform-driven companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook, and compared them with less efficient and more costly traditional business models, Parker and colleagues developed frameworks for helping non-platform companies successfully convert to a platform model so they could better compete in their industries. In 2006, they co-wrote an article for Harvard Business Review (HBR) called “Strategies for Two-Sided Markets.” Named among HBR’s top 50 articles of all time, the piece outlined the value of network systems that connect two distinct groups of users to create exponential opportunities for growth – and it was a wake-up call to businesses that had not yet transitioned to a platform model, many of which were losing ground. In 2021, Parker and his co-authors received the Antitrust Writing Award for best academic article.
Companies in a variety of sectors have since generated billions of dollars in new business by transitioning to a platform model, while others have yet to do so, mainly because they are still trying to understand what a platform is, why they need it, and how to adapt their organizations to take advantage of the opportunities.
Parker’s definition of a platform is “a business model that uses technology to connect people, organizations and resources in an interactive ecosystem in which amazing amounts of value can be created and exchanged.” Companies can leverage a platform model by “being” a platform, partnering with a platform, or selling products or services through a third-party platform – an option that allows them to play with the idea before making the leap to an in-house model.
“Platforms have become an incredibly powerful and important phenomenon across the global economy,” says Parker. “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 selling stuff or facilitating transactions?’”
That’s one of the key questions Parker poses when advising companies on ways they can streamline efficiencies and increase profitability – and it may be the single most important question key decision makers need to answer now in the post-crisis era, as businesses that were once brick and mortar need to optimize their profits in the digital space to make up for losses on the ground.
During his virtual and in-person keynotes, interactive workshops and one-on-one or small group advisory meetings, Parker offers companies accessible frameworks for building platform systems that leverage their unique offerings while vastly increasing revenue opportunities.
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Geoff Parker is a Professor of Engineering and Director of the Master of Engineering Management Program at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering. He is also a Visiting Scholar and Research Fellow at MIT’s Initiative for the Digital Economy. He previously served as Director of the Tulane Energy Institute and on the General Electric (GE) Africa technical workforce advisory board. He has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton University, a Master’s in electrical engineering (Technology and Policy Program) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a PhD in management science from MIT.
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.
Two HBR pieces Parker co-authored, “Strategies for Two-Sided Markets” (2006) and “From Pipelines to Platforms” (2016), have been included in HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Platforms and Ecosystems (2021), and he was a 2021 co-recipient of the Anti-Trust Writing Awards, along with co-author Marshall Van Alstyne. 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. Parker and Van Alstyne’s work was recognized by Thinkers50 in 2021 when they were named among the top 50 management thinkers in the world and in 2019 when they won the Digital Thinking Award. They also won the Antitrust Writing Award for best academic article in 2021.
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 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.
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®.
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.