Emerging Technologies

Every Organization Needs a Digital Platform Strategy

Learn how to explore, plan, deliver, and evolve your digital platform strategy.

Digital business expands and evolves the opportunities, threats and constraints of business ecosystems. With more than 30 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020, the complexity will only increase, and CIOs will play an integral role in setting the framework for businesses.

“Not every organization should assume a leadership role in a business ecosystem; however, every organization needs a digital platform strategy,” said Don Scheibenreif, VP and distinguished analyst, during his session at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Barcelona, Spain. “To engage and manage business ecosystems, organizations are creating and integrating with a digital business platform to share critical assets.”

The strategy must integrate business and IT needs and establish a collective leadership vision.

The digital platform strategy will vary from company to company. Some companies will develop a platform business model that encompasses providers, consumers and employees to create or exchange goods, services and social interaction. Others might integrate with other organizations’ digital platforms. Regardless of the setup, the strategy must integrate business and IT needs and establish a collective leadership vision. Companies must decide what makes sense for their organization and long-term business goals.


Business ecosystem participation will affect how CIOs determine strategic and operational investments.

Business ecosystems must be deliberately integrated to improve the overall corporate strategy. CIOs need to collaborate with business counterparts to decide if the primary goal should be to create an ecosystem or integrate with those of other organizations. Larger organizations might support a combination of approaches, but top-performing enterprises generally leverage ecosystems to co-create solutions.

Consider scenarios for how business ecosystems will evolve in the future from both the business and IT perspectives. CIOs can work with business peers to guide the conversation about required products and services.


Digital platform strategies require CIOs to integrate business and technology planning.

CIOs need to connect the idea of evolving digital platform strategies with enhancing the business strategy. Define a high-level statement to match the business objective with the ecosystem strategy, ensuring it includes actionable items and business and tech impacts. While planning, pay attention to which business and IT strategic planning scenarios are more or less likely to happen and review the implications, constraints, interdependencies and risk of the digital platform strategy.


Business and technology opportunities and risks will significantly influence how CIOs support digital platforms.

Digital business platforms must create value for employees, customers and partners. More importantly, they must attract customers looking to use the ecosystem. CIOs must remember that while creating ecosystems is difficult, managing them will be the challenge. This means a need to create new requirements for integration, security, compliance and reputation risk, alongside a governance that ensures equitable platform behavior by participants.

CIOs should create a first team to build momentum for the digital platform strategy and identify potential monetization strategies and impacts on risk. Define clear business-driven outcomes and decide if the company has the risk-tolerance and the time to build an in-house platform or if it should look to buy one.


As business ecosystems expand, CIOs will have to manage increasingly complex digital platform architectures.

As business ecosystems expand, the complexity of the supporting architecture will increase. CIOs should work with business partners to figure out what scenarios are likely for the future of digital platforms and select the type of platform architecture needed to support future plans. This includes whether ecosystems will be supported internally or externally, and the roles of the digital platform core provider, consumer and platform owner. CIOs must focus on technology growth, but also on evolving the business architecture to support governance, trust, strategy, reputation, security and economics.

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