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Operating Models for Your Digital Business

One key requirement for established companies introducing digital offerings is development of a digital platform. A digital platform stores the reusable business, data, and infrastructure components allowing the company to address customer needs through rapid innovation. However, as large, complex companies start to develop digital offerings, they quickly encounter challenges in designing and managing the rapidly expanding set of components on their digital platforms.

Specifically, they must decide how many digital platforms they will need and how they will manage component design and reuse. Research questions will include:

  • How do companies decide on the number and scope of their digital platforms?
  • How do they scope individual components and decide what’s reusable?
  • How do they manage components as they proliferate?
  • How do they decide what components to expose to external developers?

This project will explore how companies can best resolve these issues. Specifically, we seek to identify alternative operating model options for digital businesses and their implications for the design of a company’s digital platform(s). Our focus is on operating models for large, established companies as they increasingly deliver digital offerings, along with traditional products and services.

We will conduct two in-depth case studies with companies that have been building digital platforms for a few years. We will also conduct follow-up interviews at companies where we have already completed in-depth case studies. We hope to engage with a few CISR sponsors in leadership roundtables to debate alternative operating models for digital business. This is a new methodology where we will visit (or schedule a virtual meeting) for purposes of facilitating a discussion with multiple members of your leadership team to explore alternative approaches to the design and implementation of your digital platform.

Research team: Jeanne Ross (lead), Cynthia Beath, Martin Mocker

Contact: Jeanne Ross (