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Digital Platforms: Technology & Business Components

Room A310, January - May 2019

Faculty: Profs. Ramesh Sundararaman and V Sridhar

This 4 credit course is being offered as one of the electives for MTech, IMTech, MSc (DS) and MS students.

In this course, you will learn about the fundamentals of digital platforms, understand why platforms are superior to products and how you can create your impact / business as a platform.

The course is open to students & researchers who want to learn the latest about platforms; gain an opportunity to build platforms and think of strategies to achieve the requisite social / business impact.

This course provides an opportunity to work on real-life platform-related business ideas and case studies.

At the end of this course, participants will learn to:

  • Define & Recognize platform businesses
  • Design & Develop Interaction-First Platforms
  • Create Virality / Network Effects
  • Monetization approaches
  • Launch & Scale Platforms
  • Governance & Regulatory

Reference Books:

Evaluation

The participants of this course will be evaluated as per the following:
  • Class Participation (Discussion on Pre-readings, Team, Jan-Apr): 20% - Please come prepared to the class (read through the pre-readings for each class)
  • Best 2 of Quizzes (Individual, After every 6 weeks - Wk7, Wk13 and Wk19): 20%
  • End Exam (Individual): 20%

  • Case Analysis / Platform Teardown (Critical review of a Platform - using relevant business and technology frameworks, Individual, Mar end): 20%
  • Group Project - Platform Business (2 Member Team - Midterm & Endterm Presentations): 20%

Syllabus

Wk 1 (Jan 01-03): Digital Platforms - Course Overview

Readings: None

Wk 2 (Jan 06-10): Platform Business Model - Motivation

Primary Readings:
Optional Readings:
Activities:
  • A few students to present (5 minutes) on their favourite platforms on 9th Jan - Upgrad, Aadhar, Wikipedia, HackerEarth, Github, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, LinkedIn, Airbnb, Gojek, ...
  • Form Groups of 2 members (one with Customer / Revenue focus, another with Product / Design focus) and be ready with your team details - Submit the team details by 14th Jan
  • Choose a platform startup / app of your choice and submit the name of the startup / app by 21st Jan - you need to conduct an analysis / teardown of the platform - using relevant business & technology frameworks
  • As a team, start working towards identifying a commercial / social challenge that you would want to address using a platform. Submit details of your challenge by 23rd Jan

Wk3 (Jan 13-17): Platform Business Model - Pipes vs Platforms

Primary Readings:
Optional Readings:
Activities:
  • Submit your 2 member team details by 14th Jan

Wk4 (Jan 20-24): Platform Business Model - Strategy

Primary Readings:
Optional Readings: Activities:
  • Before 23rd Jan, 8:00am: Submit through email, the name of the Platform (startup / app). You could choose any Platform Startup / app of your choice. Kindly note this is an individual activity. You need to conduct an analysis / teardown of the platform - using the relevant business & technology concepts that we learnt during this course
  • On the 23rd: Introduce your team and each member's focus first. Then as a team, present an elevator pitch of the commercial / social challenge that you would want to address using a platform

Wk5 (Jan 27-31): Platform Business Model - Virality & Network Effects

Primary Readings:
Optional Readings:

Wk6 (Feb 3-7): Platform Business Model - Monetization

Activities:
  • This Week's Classes will be taken by Prof. Sridhar

Wk7 (Feb 10-14): Platform Business Model - Monetization

Readings:
Activities:
  • 11th Feb class will be taken by Prof. Sridhar - In this class, the students will be presenting their thoughts on Monetization, as detailed out by Prof. Sridhar
  • External Talk by Mr. Salil, founder of QueryHome | AnswerCart on 13th Feb - Here is an opportunity for you to understand directly from the founder of a platform - their thoughts, strategies - and relate to the concepts learnt in class

Wk8 (Feb 17-21): Design & Develop Interaction-First Platforms

Optional Readings:
Reference Websites:
Activities:
  • Quiz 1 will be held on Feb 18. This would revolve around all topics discussed in class during the past weeks. The duration of the quiz would be 60 minutes

Wk9 (Feb 24-28): Design & Develop Interaction-First Platforms

Primary Readings:
Optional Readings:
  • External Talk by Mr. Saurabh Saha, founder of TalentPegs and GaliJobs on 25th Feb - Here is an opportunity for you to understand directly from the founder of a platform - his thoughts, strategies - and relate to the concepts learnt in class

Wk10 (Mar 2-7): Mid-Term Project Presentation Week

Activities:
  • On 5th March, 2:00 - 5:00pm - Each of the 10 teams will present in detail (10 min + 5 min feedback) the progress made over the past 1 month on the project. The other teams will provide feedback to the presenting team. Please load all your presentation in advance on the classroom laptop

Wk11 (Mar 9-13): Design & Develop Interaction-First Platforms

Primary Readings:
Optional Readings:

Wk12 (Mar 30-Apr 3): Platform Ventures - Launch Planning

Readings:
  • Regulatory Awareness and Adherence
Activities:
  • This Week's Classes will be taken by Prof. Sridhar

Wk13 (Apr 6-Apr 10): Platform Ventures - Launch Planning

Readings:
  • Regulatory Awareness and Adherence
Activities:
  • This Week's Classes will be taken by Prof. Sridhar

Wk14 (Apr 13-17): Platform Ventures - Governance

Primary Readings:
Optional Readings:
Reference Websites: Platforms & Pandemics
Activities:

Wk15 (Apr 20-24): Plaform Ventures - Metrics

Readings: Primary Reading:
Optional Readings:

Wk16 (Apr 27-May 1): Platform Ventures - Summing Up

Primary Reading:
Optional Readings:
Activities:
  • On 30th April, we will a talk by Mr. Varad Krishnan, Co-Founder 100 Open Startups - Here is an opportunity for you to understand his thoughts, strategies - and relate to the concepts learnt in class

Wk17 (May 4-8): 2nd Interim Project Presentation Week

Activities:
  • This week, each of the 10 teams will make their 2nd interim presentation (10 min + 5min feedback) detailing the progress made over the past 2 months on the project. The other teams will provide feedback to the presenting team
  • Kindly prepare a slide deck listing all the frameworks / concepts that you have learnt relating to platforms - which you are currently using to perform the teardown analysis as part of your individual paper submission
  • Please submit this slide deck via email - by 6th May
  • Quiz 2 will be held on May 7th. This would revolve around all topics discussed in class during the past weeks (beginning Feb 24th till May 1st)

Wk18 (May 11-15): External Talk Week

Activities:
  • External Talks by leaders of Sonata - Here is an opportunity for you to understand directly - their thoughts, strategies - and relate to the concepts learnt in class
  • All individual paper submissions are due before 18th May 8:00am
  • All team project submissions (slide deck and audio presentation) are due before 22nd May 8:00am

Wk19 (mid-July): Exam Week

Activities:
  • This week, each of the 10 teams will present in detail (10 min + 5min feedback) the progress made over the past 1 month on the project. The teams could ideally show their platform's website / mobile app (or) presentation deck. The other teams will evaluate and score each of the presenting teams. This is the final presentation for the team project.
  • This week, we will also have the final examination for this course