It was great to be at the Shard earlier this week to hear Peter Evans and Annabelle Gawer talk about their new report “The Rise of the Platform Enterprise”. The overarching theme of the morning was (albeit not explicitly stated in the programme) “European Platform Anxiety” – that is, that the digital infrastructure central to our economic commerce will become increasingly dominated by a handful of American internet companies.  While China is proving capable of competing (e.g Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent etc.) Europe and Africa/L.America are far behind. This is shown in a stark graph which shows that while N.America platform companies are worth around $3Tn, and Asia’s around $1Tn, Europe’s are only worth about $0.2Tn. Whether Europe can or should respond was debated. This led to questions such as:
  1. Lack of transparency?
  2. Liability for content on Platforms?
  3. Enforcement of existing legislation within this digital space?
  4. Legal uncertainties and trust,
  5. Possibilities to aid switching between platforms (avoiding lock-in)
Each of these looks like a great MSc dissertation project or PhD research project opportunity. Anyway I urge you to look at the report, and I thank Prof Alan Brown of CoDE @ Surrey University for the kind invitation to attend the event.

Written by Dr Will Venters