Journal of Information Technology

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 124–135 | Cite as

The digital platform: a research agenda

  • Mark de Reuver
  • Carsten Sørensen
  • Rahul C. Basole
Research Article


As digital platforms are transforming almost every industry today, they are slowly finding their way into the mainstream information systems (ISs) literature. Digital platforms are a challenging research object because of their distributed nature and intertwinement with institutions, markets and technologies. New research challenges arise as a result of the exponentially growing scale of platform innovation, the increasing complexity of platform architectures and the spread of digital platforms to many different industries. This paper develops a research agenda for digital platforms research in IS. We recommend researchers seek to (1) advance conceptual clarity by providing clear definitions that specify the unit of analysis, degree of digitality and the sociotechnical nature of digital platforms; (2) define the proper scoping of digital platform concepts by studying platforms on different architectural levels and in different industry settings; and (3) advance methodological rigour by employing embedded case studies, longitudinal studies, design research, data-driven modelling and visualisation techniques. Considering current developments in the business domain, we suggest six questions for further research: (1) Are platforms here to stay? (2) How should platforms be designed? (3) How do digital platforms transform industries? (4) How can data-driven approaches inform digital platforms research? (5) How should researchers develop theory for digital platforms? and (6) How do digital platforms affect everyday life?


digital platforms digital infrastructures digital ecosystems digital innovation research agenda 



The authors wish to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. We also greatly appreciate the significant encouragement and help from the Editors-in-Chief in developing this paper and for providing excellent feedback and advice. The research was in part supported by a number of research grants. The first author’s work was supported by The European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under Grant Agreement No 645791. The second author’s work was supported by the following research grants: The Flexible Networks (EPSRC Grant: EP/G066434/1); User Interactions for Breakthrough Services (EPSRC Grant: EP/G066426/1); The Telenor Research and Future Studies Value Networks Programme; and The Huawei HUDIP project supported under the Synergetic Innovation Network, Theory and Practice (HIRPO20161301) Programme. The third author's work was in part supported by the Tennenbaum Institute for Enterprise Transformation.


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Copyright information

© Association for Information Technology Trust 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark de Reuver
    • 1
  • Carsten Sørensen
    • 2
  • Rahul C. Basole
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty Technology Policy and Management, Department Engineering Systems and ServicesDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of ManagementThe London School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK
  3. 3.College of Computing and Tennenbaum InstituteGeorgia TechAtlantaUSA

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