Geoff Parker

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Leading Expert on Network Economics and Platform Business Strategies; Professor of Engineering, Dartmouth College; Visiting Scholar and Research Fellow at MIT’s Initiative for the Digital Economy; Co-Chair of MIT’s Annual Platform Strategy Summit

Biography

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.

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.

# # #

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). 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 has also been recognized by Thinkers50 and received the 2019 Digital Thinking Award with Marshall Van Alstyne.

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 Marshall Van Alstyne and Sangeet Paul Choudary.

Geoff Parker is available for paid speaking engagements – including virtual and in-person keynote speeches, panel discussions, interactive workshops and advisory/consulting services – through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Media

Will Coronavirus Spark the Overdue Platform Revolution in Healthcare?

March 20, 2020

Geoffrey Parker on the Economics of Networked Markets (Audio)

November 22, 2019

Platform Mastery: Designing for Interactions

November 12, 2019

How Digital Platforms Are Changing the Way We Do Business

September 2019

The Four Biggest Challenges Digital Platforms Need to Address

July 8, 2019

The Platform Economy

January 19, 2019

Platforms and Blockchain Will Transform Logistics

June 19, 2019

MIT Sloan Management Review logo

How Platform Strategies Continue to Create Value

September 24, 2018

The hill logo

The Consumer Data Collection Industry is About to Explode

June 19, 2018

The Platform Revolution and the Insurance Industry: A Discussion with Dr. Geoff Parker

July 25, 2018

Data Ownership, Regulation, and Blockchain Dominate Platform Markets

July 3, 2018

What Will The End Of Net Neutrality Mean For The Future Of The Internet? (Audio)

December 13, 2017

MIT Sloan Management Review logo

Platform Sprawl Leaves No Industry Behind

July 7, 2017

Platform Revolution And Digital Transformation: Don't Become The Next Unicorn

April 9, 2017

The Coming Platform Revolution in Financial Markets

November 1, 2016

The Return of Platforms (and How to Not Fail at Building One)

May 3, 2016

Fortune logo

Here’s How Nike Became a Platform Business

April 10, 2016

Pipelines, Platforms, and the New Rules of Strategy

April 2016

Washington Post logo

Here's the Advantage that Keeps Silicon Valley Ahead of the World

March 31, 2016

marketingjournal.org logo

“The Platform Revolution” – An Interview with Geoffrey Parker and Marshall Van Alstyne

March 30, 2016

Are Platform Businesses Eating The World?

February 14, 2016

6 Reasons Platforms Fail

March 31, 2016

marketingjournal.org logo

“The Platform Revolution” – An Interview with Geoffrey Parker and Marshall Van Alstyne

March 30, 2016

Tech’s ‘Frightful 5’ Will Dominate Digital Life for Foreseeable Future

January 20, 2016

Strategies for Two-Sided Markets

October 2006

Intro Video

Video ThumbnailProf Geoff Parker - The Platform Revolution. Digital Ecosystem Management, Global Summit 2016 - youtube Video

A-Z Name

Parker, Geoff

Biography

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.

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.

# # #

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). 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 has also been recognized by Thinkers50 and received the 2019 Digital Thinking Award with Marshall Van Alstyne.

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 Marshall Van Alstyne and Sangeet Paul Choudary.

Geoff Parker is available for paid speaking engagements – including virtual and in-person keynote speeches, panel discussions, interactive workshops and advisory/consulting services – through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

The Platform Revolution Ramps Up for a Post-COVID-19 Economy

If your business has not yet transitioned to a platform model, you may find it unavoidable now. As many of us have witnessed, firms that already had a platform model in place prior to the crisis have fared much better. Decision makers now tasked with reframing their business models to meet the demands of the post-crisis economy will find Geoff Parker’s guidance, knowledge and frameworks around platform strategies invaluable. Drawing from his years teaching at Dartmouth and MIT and the groundbreaking book he co-authored, “Platform Revolution,” Parker discusses what a successful platform model looks like for your business and highlights the many opportunities platform models offer for exponentially increasing profits.

How to Monetize a Platform

Many non-platform businesses are unaware of the revenue opportunities they are missing out on by not converting to a platform model. And even platform-based businesses may not be fully optimizing their profit potential. Geoff Parker developed some of the original math behind two-sided markets and his co-authored Harvard Business Review article on the subject is a popular classic. In this talk, Parker draws back the curtain on the endless revenue opportunities and efficiencies platforms offer and teaches methods for leveraging third-party users to build on those profits and efficiencies – opportunities absent from traditional business models.

Architecture: The Right Way to Build a Platform

IT professionals can significantly contribute to growth by helping firms with traditional business models transition to a platform model. But building a successful platform requires knowing what components are necessary. Where do you start? How do platforms go viral? How do you engineer network effects? How do markets work? During this presentation, Geoff Parker teaches participants how growth and matching are done properly and offers up tools and frameworks for optimizing efficiencies and profitability within platforms.

 

 

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Books & Research

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Workshops

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.

Recommendations

Praise for “Platform Revolution”

“Thorough and often provocative.”

— Jeremy G. Philips, The Wall Street Journal

“An authoritative guide to the role of online platforms: what they are, how they work, and what they mean for business and economics. Platform Revolution demystifies the concept by providing clear prose, insightful examples, and practical lessons.”

— Hal Varian, chief economist, Google, and author of Information Rules

“Platforms have transformed the economy over the last two decades, but the biggest effects are yet to come. Platform Revolution provides the first comprehensive framework for platform strategy and for predicting the winners and losers of future disruptions.”

— Susan C. Athey, Stanford University, former chief economist, Microsoft

Platform Revolution is a manual for the disruption of your industry. You can either read it or try to keep it out of the hands of your competitors―present and future. I think it’s an easy call.”

— Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at MIT, coauthor of The Second Machine Age

Platform Revolution provides an exceptional synthesis of cutting-edge research that makes it must-reading for my MBA students. A key insight is that platform strategies can benefit all participants when they understand the underlying economics. Read the book and share it with your business partners. You’ll be glad you did.”

— Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT Sloan School, coauthor of The Second Machine Age

“In a very cohesive and comprehensive way, the authors provide deep conceptual insights and rich practical advice on platforms, the most important business organizations of our time.”

— Ming Zeng, chief strategy officer, Alibaba

“In the digital economy, platforms are transforming industries at high speed. Platform Revolution is an inspiring guide for business leaders to transform existing businesses to platform businesses.”

— Jim Hagemann-Snabe, former CEO of SAP

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