Digital Platforms: A Review and Future Directions

by | May 15, 2020 | 0 comments

Digital Platforms: A Review and Future Directions:- Abstract
The increasing adoption of digital platforms as a new mode of organizing economic and
social activities has led to a growing interest in research on this topic amongst IS scholars.
As a result, the digital platforms literature has grown significantly over the last decade. Yet,
scholars call for more research on the topic as platforms evolve and many questions remain
unanswered. There is therefore a need to take stock of the existing literature in order to gain
better visibility of what has been achieved and what directions future research can take. We
conducted a systematic review of the literature on digital platforms including 96 articles,
covering IS and management journals. Key findings of this study show an ambiguity in the
current conceptualization of digital platforms. They also highlight the multi-dimensional
nature of digital platforms which reflects the heterogeneity of their manifestations in
Keywords: Literature review, Digital platforms, Platform design and deployment, Platform adoption
and outcomes, Definitions of digital platform, Future directions

Digital platforms have become a major mode for organizing a wide range of human activities,
including economic, social, and political interactions (e.g., Tan et al. 2015; Kane et al. 2014). In
particular, the rise of digital platforms has transformed the landscape of multiple industries such as
transportation (e.g., Uber, Grab), hospitality (e.g., Airbnb, CouchSurfing), and software development
(e.g., Apple iOS, Google android). Enterprises that have leveraged the affordances of digital platforms
have achieved significant growth in size and scale. For instance, digital platform providers in the areas
of e-commerce and software development have attained more than $700 billion in market value
(Evans and Gawer 2016). As a result, digital platforms have become an attractive business model and
strategy, and a promising engine of economic growth for a number of sectors.
The prominence of this phenomenon and its dependence on IT capabilities have led to increasing
interest in researching digital platforms amongst Information Systems (IS) scholars (e.g., Tiwana
2015; Kwark et al. 2017; Markus and Loebbecke 2013; Parker et al. 2017). Prior empirical and
conceptual studies have examined platforms from different angles, such as the growth of platform-

Literature Review on Digital Platform

Twenty-Second Pacific Asia Conference on Information Systems, Japan 2018

based ecosystems (Jha et al. 2016), the governance of platforms (Boudreau 2010), the adoption of
platform strategies (Hagiu and Wright 2015), and the impact of digital platforms on society (Chan and
Ghose 2014). However, despite these important advances in our understanding of digital platforms,
calls continue to be made for more research on the topic given its increasing significance for practice,
the evolving technology and its uses, and the many unanswered questions in this area (e.g., Tiwana et
al. 2010; de Reuver et al. 2017). To answer these calls effectively, it is important to take stock of the
current state of the literature on digital platforms. To do so, we attempt in this study to achieve the
following research objectives. First, we synthesize the existing definitions of digital platforms and
extract the main characteristics of digital platforms. Second, we provide an overview of the main
topics studied under digital platforms and the research methods used. Third, we identify the different
types of platforms based on various dimensions of categorization. Lastly, we identify gaps in the
literature and suggest opportunities for future research.
A few other studies have offered reviews on the topic of digital platforms. However, existing reviews
are typically focused on a particular type of digital platforms, such as crowdsourcing platforms (e.g.,
Majchrzak and Malhotra 2013). Yet, other reviews offer categorizations of research streams and
conceptualization of digital platforms but without a thorough review of the literature (de Reuver et al

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