Platform Economy: “The Internet As A Technology-Based Ecosystem” [Review]

Working on my PhD research, I have just finished reading the brand new book by Nigel WaltonThe Internet As A Technology-Based Ecosystem (Palgrave Macmillan).

Nigel, a Senior Lecturer in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Worcester and an Associate Lecturer in Strategy at the Open University Business School is also a researcher focusing on the internet as a platform ecosystem.


We are living in the platform-economy. Companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, grow unicorns such as Uber and Airbnb or crowdfunding platforms themselves, have disrupted the old ecosystem creating a new economic framework.

In fact, if on one side

Modern platform ecosystem firms operate different business models to traditional firms,

argues Nigel Walton in his new book, on the other the internet have become

ultimately a platform of platforms and an ecosystem of ecosystems.

So, how to model this huge shift in the economic environment? Classical approach to strategy have become inconsistent to intepret reality and such a change requires to be disruptive as well.

In giving his contribution to the debate, Walton uses an innovative approach by making a comparison between the biological sciences and the ICT sector.

In particular, he uses a deep-sea hydrothermal vent (HTV) ecosystem model and attempts to establish how far the intersection of disciplines of business strategy and biology can provide an effective framework for analogical reasoning.

An example? The Author writes:

As technology firms are forced to innovate and build platforms to compete against one-another, this means that they develop their own individual ecosystems that incorporate multiple organisms and these reside at different levels of the food web. Although the core business of the firm may belong to a single taxonomic group and may reside at one level of the ecosystem (the ‘Core Ecosystem Platform’); as the firm extends and innovates beyond its core business (the ‘Extended Ecosystem’) and develops its platform, newer organisms enter the ecosystem or are acquired through predation such as mergers and acquisitions.

Source: The Internet as a Technology-Based Ecosystem.

However, Walton is aware that his attempt is just the first one of many others which have to follow as much more has to be done in this respect:

The ‘Platform Ecosystem-School’ and ‘Hydrothermal Vent (HTV) Ecosystem Model’, are an attempt to start the model revolution by identifying a new model or approach that acts as a complement to the existing classical school. (…) This will offer further opportunities to build on the research undertaken so far.

Worth reading.

Find our more here.