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2022 MIT Platform Strategy Summit: Event Highlights

It was yet another year of insightful conservations, panel discussions, and fireside chats at the annual workshop on platform-centered economics and management – The MIT Platform Strategy Summit 2022, held on July 14th, 2022. This year 2022, marks the 10th anniversary of the MIT Platform Strategy Summit, and McFadyen Digital was proud to sponsor this annual workshop. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, MIT hosted an additional half-day event on July 13th titled “The Platform Revolution Comes to Healthcare: A Deep Dive at the 2022 MIT Platform Strategy Summit.” It involved several feature keynotes and panel sessions involving industry experts to explore how digital health platforms are critical enablers of transformation in healthcare.

The main event on July 14th was co-chaired by Peter Evans, Geoffrey Parker, and Marshall Van Alstyne. Peter C. Evans is the Managing Partner, Platform Strategy Institute (Summit Co-chair), Geoffrey Parker is Professor, Dartmouth College & Visiting Scholar, MIT IDE (Summit Co-chair), and Marshall Van Alstyne is Professor, Boston University & Visiting Scholar, MIT IDE (Summit Co-chair).

The MIT Platform Summit provides the podium for the global community of executives and academics to explore the economics and management of platform-centered markets and discuss their implications for managers, industry, and needs. This event is open to IDE Members (Initiative on the Digital Economy) at no cost and to the public for a fee.

The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) explores how people and businesses will work, interact, and prosper in an era of profound digital transformation. They are increasing knowledge and expanding the dialogue on the digital economy.

The IDE has five primary activities, including research with rigor and relevance, events to bring together thought leaders and practitioners with differing perspectives, a fellowship program that encourages visitors to campus, a competition focusing on Inclusive Innovation so that more of the population benefits from a technology-driven economy, and educational programs within the MIT Sloan graduate curriculum and executive education. Let’s look at the key event highlights.

Opening Session : Platform Review & Forecasting

The opening session featured Elizabeth J. Altman – Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Peter C. Evans, Geoffrey Parker, and Marshall Van Alstyne. They discussed what “workforce” means in the new digitally transformed world. It now includes employees, contractors, gig workers, complementary businesses, marketplace sellers, chatbots, robots, and members of the entire ecosystem that support the platform model. There were predictions about what the future of the workforce ecosystem would look like. Peter C Evans stated how Web 3.0 is a rebranding of the blockchain. The growing significance of NFTs could be gauged from the fact that $40 billion worth of NFTs were sold in 2021, and $33 billion were invested by VCs in Web3 start-ups.

Marshal Van Alstyne weighed whether DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations) threatened the platform model. DAO is software on a blockchain that offers users a built-in model for collectively managing its code. DAOs differ from traditional organizations managed by boards, committees, and executives. Whether they are a threat to the platform depends on many factors. In the platform model Network Effects (NFX) or Externalities drive everything, and orchestration of NFX happens by design. Whereas DAOs need governance to succeed. A platform is an open architecture with rules of governance to facilitate interactions.

Keynote: Dr. Alex Ng – Vice President, Tencent Healthcare

The Keynote from Dr. Alex Ng was a highly engaging one. He discussed the various pain points the Chinese healthcare industry faces, some of them being; commercialization of search, less than optimal patient experience, and piecemeal digital solutions. He then elaborated on how Tencent is helping healthcare transform through digitalization. Tencent’s mini health program provides an independent access point to trusted information and services. Tencent’s super app has over 3000 apps embedded into it. The digital healthcare assistant connects online users to offline health services, enables e-bill payment, and provides verified health information.

Panel 1: New Digital Divide

This session was moderated by Svenja Falk – Managing Director, Accenture Research. The panel participants were Peggy Gulick – Director, Digital Transformation Operations, Kohler Co., Peter Weckesser – Chief Digital Officer, Schneider Electric, Helmut Ludwig – Board Member, Hitachi, and Supheakmungkol “Mungkol” Sarin – Head of Data and AI Ecosystems, World Economic Forum. The panel discussed several significant trends: the increasing importance of data and technology in business strategy and operations, ongoing geopolitical tensions, and a rise in digital decoupling. It was a highly engaging panel discussion demonstrating how businesses can create and capture value in the next phase of globalization, in which externalities play a much more significant role. It showed how and to what extent digital fragmentation within a firm affects its ability to create and capture new value. It is imperative to address internal silos, given the untapped opportunities to create new value in the digital economy. The session also emphasized the role of government that can enable digitization through policy that supports growth.

MyLearning NFT Presentation

Hari Abburi, Co-Founder, MyLearningNFT, and Managing Partner, The Preparation Company, gave an introductory session that discussed a path-breaking innovation of dynamic NFTs in learning and education. MyLearningNFT has developed a dynamic NFT. It deploys unique tokens that are recorded to the blockchain with the addition of a smart contract with traits and data that can be changed because of learning actions taken by token holders. This works because each participant mints their own My Learning NFT upon successfully completing the course. The NFT has a specific value upon course completion. Each participant’s NFT changes its properties, look & feel and value in points based on continued learning actions post completion of the course. So overall, NFT appreciates or depreciates depending on continued learning. Indeed, a fascinating use case for NFTs in corporate learning and development.

Panel 2: Platforms Powering Enterprise Talent Strategy

Again a super exciting panel that talked about how platforms are helping with corporate talent development. The panel was moderated by Marshall Van Alstyne, and the participants were Anant Agarwal – Founder, edX and Professor, MIT Chief Open Education Officer, 2U, Tapaswee Chandele – Global Vice President of Talent & Development, The Coca-Cola Company, Chris Dellarocas – Associate Provost for Digital Learning & Innovation, Boston University, and Patrick Petitti – Founder & CEO, Catalant Technologies. Anant surmised how opening the classroom through online learning, edX empowered millions of learners to unlock their potential and become changemakers. Edx currently has 45 million users and 160 member universities on board.

Patrick Petitti – Founder & CEO of Catalant Technologies, discussed how Catalant is helping companies go from strategy to execution fast. Catalant has a network of over 80,000 independent consultants with an average age of 45 years and a pool of over 1000 consulting firms. Economic uncertainties, rapidly evolving market conditions, and remote work are forcing leaders to accelerate the enablement of a digital workplace, adapt plans, and quickly reallocate resources to achieve their goals. This is where Catalan brings value.

Other panel leaders presented data showing how platforms are increasingly powering enterprise talent strategies. Companies increasingly rely on platforms to identify and recruit talent. Platforms are also used in other important ways. Platforms are increasingly being tapped to support training and development from entry level all the way to highly curated executive leadership development training. Platforms are also a benefits strategy in an increasingly challenging talent market. Platform approaches are also being deployed internally to support the realities of more networked global companies.

Panel 3: Web 3, Tokens and Metaverse Platform

A highly insightful and engaging session chaired by Peter C Ivans with participation from Lauren Lubetsky – Engagement Manager Growth Strategy, Monitor Deloitte, Tim Rice – Co-founding CEO of Coin Metrics, Skip Roncal – Global Lead, Salesforce & AWS Solutions, CME and Gaming Industries, Salesforce, and Adam Schouela – Head of Emerging Technologies.

The panel discussed the idea of the Metaverse as a set of possibilities that is not here fully yet. They will help us to open interoperable worlds. As per McKinsey and Citibank forecasts, Metaverse will grow to a size of $5 Trillion in some years. The investment in Metaverse this year has been over $120 Billion, double that of last year. Tim Rice elaborated on how Coin Metrics organizes the world’s crypto data and makes it more transparent and accessible. Coin Metrics helps prove ownership of crypto & other blockchain assets and sells services to big financial institutions and private investors.

Panel 4: Future of the Retail Experience 

This panel had participation from Tom McFadyen – CEO & Author, McFadyen Digital, Mert Damlapinar – Director, eRetail Strategic Insights & Tech Products, L’Oreal USA, Jonathan Yaffe – Cofounder and CEO, AnyRoad, and was moderated by Peter C. Evans. Tom McFadyen laid the ground for early discussion by highlighting the distinction between 1st party eCommerce and platform business. It was an enlightening session full of insights on where the future of retail is headed.

Jonathan Yaffe gave his perspective on how Anyroad empowers leading consumer brands with the technology and insights they need to deliver world-class live experiences and events. He stressed that platforming experiential businesses are the only way to scale them. For example, Working with AnyRoad, Michaels Stores was able to reimagine their in-store classes, optimize the experience with data and insights and launch an online class program that has become a viral success. Using the Anyroad platform, Michaels has scaled their program to 20,000 experiences per year and outpaced the competition to become an industry leader for both in-store and online experiences.

Mert Damlapinar provided his perspective on what Loreal was doing in the platform space. He reflected upon the launch of Loreal’s SalonCentric, one of the largest wholesale salon and beauty supply distributors of professional beauty products in the United States. B2B platform model offers a better assortment, lower cost of operations, and primarily access to all customer data otherwise lost to the retailers. The B2B platform is less than a year old and already has more than 1 million hair styling professionals.

For those wanting to hear the entire panel discussion, a full on-demand recording of this session is available here.

Fireside Chat with Joanna Rotenberg – In this session, Geoffrey Parker spoke to Joanna Rotenberg -President of Personal Investing, Fidelity Investments, on how the company is adapting changing customer demographics of millennials and Gen Z.

Dava Newman – Director, MIT Media Lab and Apollo Professor of Astronautics, MIT, in a chat with Geoffrey Parker, spoke about their innovations in their space. Dava Newman presented 3D Knit Bio Suit at the 2022 Mars Conference this year. 3D Knit BioSuit™—a multidisciplinary, collaborative work involving groups across MIT, including the Media Lab, Architecture Self-Assembly Lab, AeroAstro Human Systems Lab, and ME Multifunctional Metamaterials Group. Dava is also leading the efforts through EarthDNA, a global platform for climate advocacy and action.

The day closed with closing remarks from Summit Co-chairs, Peter, Geoffrey, and Marshal followed by a networking reception. Over the last ten year’s, MIT IDE has churned out a library’s worth of content related to platform strategy. Visit the 10th Year Anniversary Content Library to see the archive of event presentations, materials, and collateral for an informative walk down memory lane.

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