Platform-based exchange: New business models in technology industries

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Platform-based information exchange has triggered new forms of value creation across technology industries. The increasing role of digital technologies and platforms has led the way toward service-centric and digitally enhanced value creation, but also provided the firms with an abundance of resource-related information. In addition, firms that operate in traditional industries, such as primary production and manufacturing, have access to extensive amounts of data related to their material resources. This study explores how technology firms capitalize on their material-related data for value creation. This dissertation includes five original research articles on the topic. To capture the companies' operational-level choices and activities, and their impacts on a larger scale, this research utilizes the business model of a firm as the primary unit of analysis. In the process, the uses of material-related data are investigated at different levels of industrial operation, ranging from single firms to business networks. The study takes a critical realist perspective to the phenomenon and follows an abductive process of data analysis. The study insights draw from qualitative case studies among 16 technology industry firms. The findings show that companies adapt their business models to enable platforms for brokering the available information to increase its relevance, applicability, and impact. The main finding of the study is that, along with the increasing use of data in their operations, the investigated firms are shifting toward more collaborative forms of value creation and sharing, which has started to affect their existing business models. These changes indicate a shift in technology firms' compe-titive landscape, from the emphasis of individual firms' business models to ecosystem-level competition. The study theorizes the role of brokerage processes as an explanation of this change and as the basis of value creation and sharing mechanisms on platform-enabled collaboration. The study contributes to existing knowledge of industrial firms' business models by conceptual development and concludes with theoretical propositions. The thesis presents the concepts of intelligent materials and material intelligence to denote the use of material-related information in the business operations. Also, it contemplates platforms as an enabler of inter-firm brokerage in industrial operations. In addition, it clarifies the anatomy of business models by dissecting them to three components: value proposition, value constellation, and value sharing. Building on this conceptual background, the study provides three propositions, which delineate the use of digital platforms manifest in the technology firms' business models: (1) Technology firms can renew their business models by identifying and bridging the structural holes in their networks. (2) Value creation potential of shared information drives firms toward ecosystem-level business model development. (3) The principles of brokerage define value creation and sharing mechanisms in digital platforms, and, thereby, business model design.
Translated title of the contributionAlustapohjainen vaihdanta: Uudet liiketoimintamallit teknologiateollisuudessa
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Rajala, Risto, Supervising Professor
  • Eloranta, Ville, Thesis Advisor
  • Töytäri, Pekka, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-8355-1
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8356-8
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • brokerage
  • material intelligence
  • business models
  • platforms
  • structural holes


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