Platform ecosystems are complex ecologies of firms with individual competencies and collective objectives. The sustainable evolution of platform ecosystems is thereby contingent on taking advantage of the individual competencies of the ecosystem’s actors toward obtaining collective objectives. To learn more about platform ecosystem evolution and dynamics, we study Salesforce, a leading and thriving B2B platform ecosystem. We find that the ecosystem’s evolution was closely defined not only by the platform owner’s orchestrating initiatives, but also by its complementors’ and customers’ competencies and particularities. Specifically, we derive three distinct dimensions of evolution, namely the extension of the platform core technology, the extension of the platform’s functional scope, and the industry-specific specialization of the platform. We further identify three cross-dimension levers, namely proprietary developments, acquisitions, as well as partnerships and alliances, which were employed by the platform owner to drive its platform ecosystem’s evolution.
Nicola Staub, Kazem Haki, Stephan Aier, Robert Winter, Adolfo Magan