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How Established Companies Leverage External Developer Platforms for Business Value

Designed for Digital; Ecosystems

An external developer platform opens up a company’s digital platform via APIs to third-party developers so they can develop their own digital customer offerings. In 2023, we studied what it takes for a leading software company to provide and nurture a successful external developer platform and ecosystem. In this year’s project, we seek to understand and document the state of external developer platforms and ecosystems at established companies across industries.

We will focus on the following research questions:

  • Compared to software companies, how do external developer platforms help established companies across industries generate business value?
  • What are the challenges they face and how do they address them?
  • What can traditional companies learn from software companies?

This study will rely on a qualitative research methodology. We will conduct a series of interviews (one to three per company) with CIOs, CDOs, lead architects, and similar from established companies and create case vignettes.

This project is a continuation of MIT CISR’s 2023 research project on What it Takes to Build a Successful External Developer Platform.

SEEKING: We are seeking participation in the research from executives responsible for external developer platforms and ecosystems at established companies. These could be general managers of the external developer platform business unit or the chief architects for those platforms, but also chief digital officers, chief information officers, and similar.

CONTACT: Martin Mocker


Martin Mocker, Professor of Information Systems

Martin is a professor of information systems with a focus on IT strategy and complexity management at ESB Business School, Reutlingen University, Germany and an MIT CISR academic research fellow. His teaching and research focus on the digital transformations of big, old companies aiming to stay competitive in an increasingly digital economy. 

Ina M. Sebastian, Research Scientist

Ina studies how large enterprises transform for success in the digital economy. Her current research areas are digital partnering—including strategies to grow with digital partners and partnering strength—and value creation and value capture in digital models.

Related Publications

MIT CISR research is funded by the more than seventy-five member organizations that support our work and participate in our consortium. 

MIT CISR Patrons
Axway, Inc.
Pegasystems Inc.
The Ogilvy Group
MIT CISR Sponsors
Alcon Vision
Allstate Insurance Company
ANZ Banking Group (Australia)
Banco Bradesco S.A. (Brazil)
Banco do Brasil S.A.
Bank of Queensland (Australia)
Barclays (UK)
BlueScope Steel (Australia)
BNP Paribas (France)
Caterpillar, Inc.
Cemex (Mexico)
Cochlear Limited (Australia)
Commonwealth Superannuation Corp. (Australia)
Cuscal Limited (Australia)
CVS Health
Dawn Foods
DBS Bank Ltd. (Singapore)
Doosan Corporation (Korea)
Fidelity Investments
Fomento Economico Mexicano, S.A.B., de C.V.
Fortum (Finland)
Gilbane Building Co.
Johnson & Johnson (J&J)
Kaiser Permanente
King & Wood Mallesons (Australia)
Koç Holding (Turkey)
Nasdaq, Inc.
NN Insurance Eurasia NV
Nomura Holdings, Inc. (Japan)
Nomura Research Institute, Ltd. Systems Consulting Division (Japan)
Novo Nordisk A/S (Denmark)
OCP Group
Pacific Life Insurance Company
Posten Bring AS (Norway)
Principal Life Insurance Company
Ramsay Health Care (Australia)
Raytheon Technologies
Scentre Group Limited (Australia)
Schneider Electric Industries SAS (France)
Stockland (Australia)
Tabcorp Holdings (Australia)
Telstra Limited (Australia)
Terumo Corporation (Japan)
Tetra Pak (Sweden)
Truist Financial Corporation
UniSuper Management Pty Ltd (Australia)
Uniting (Australia)
Webster Bank, N.A.
Westpac Banking Corporation (Australia)
WestRock Company
Wolters Kluwer
Xenco Medical
Zoetis Services LLC

MIT CISR Associate Members

MIT CISR wishes to thank all of our associate members for their support and contributions.

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Center for Information Systems Research
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sloan School of Management
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Cambridge, MA 02142