Learning to be a Platform Owner: How BMW Enhances App Development for Cars

Niklas Weiss, Manuel Wiesche, Maximilian Schreieck, and Helmut Krcmar (2020)IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management


Platform owners face multiple challenges such as onboarding and orchestrating app developers as well as providing resources to enable the development of complementary apps. Information systems research considers digital platform governance as key to address these challenges. Thereby, the focus lies on the relationship of a platform owner and app developers. However, while there is evidence how app developers acquire skills through these interactions, there is limited knowledge of how platform owners benefit from interacting with app developers to improve their digital platforms. To address this gap, in this article, we study the emergence of a digital platform for automotive onboard apps within the BMW Group. Our results are grounded in 30 expert interviews that we conducted during a period of two years and are enriched by extensive secondary data. We identify transfer of perspective, transfer of knowledge, and transfer of artifacts as basic mechanisms that enable a platform owner to enhance its digital platform. The inherent improvements of the digital platform facilitate the app development. Our work extends the existing theory on platform emergence and provides insights into the learning process of an inexperienced platform owner. Our findings reveal valuable recommendations for organizations that are struggling to establish digital platforms.

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