It is the fundamental challenge of the high-tech sector: A firm must innovate internally to succeed-yet its success may equally depend on corresponding innovations by external firms. Whether a company develops a ubiquitous operating system or the software that runs on it, a VCR or the movies we play on it, every participant in a high-tech network is vulnerable to the innovative moves of its partners and competitors.
Yet, in spite of this perilous situation, some firms have developed strategies that have made them industry powerhouses and world-class innovators. How? By becoming platform leaders-companies that provide the technological foundation on which other products, services, and systems are built. Platform leadership is the Holy Grail of high-tech industries, but it is difficult to achieve.
In Platform Leadership, high-tech strategy experts Annabelle Gawer and Michael A. Cusumano reveal how Intel, Microsoft, and Cisco, as well as companies including Palm and NTT DoCoMo, have orchestrated industry innovations to support their products-and, in the process, established dominant market positions. Based on these in-depth case studies and on incisive analysis, the authors present their Four Levers Framework for designing and implementing a successful platform strategy-or for improving an existing strategy:
1. Determine the scope of the firm: Is it preferable to create product complements internally or let the "market" produce them?
2. Design product technology strategically: What degree of modularity is appropriate? Should product interfaces be open or closed? What information should leaders disclose to outside firms?
3. Shape relationships with external complementors: How can the company balance competition and collaboration with outside players?
4. Optimize internal organizational structures: What processes and systems will allow the company to manage internal and external conflicts of interest most effectively?
For executives, strategists, and entrepreneurs in many high-tech arenas, this book shows how firms can orchestrate innovation to ensure their own competitive futures-and drive the evolution of their industry.