The Platform Navigator

88 pattern cards that help you design and implement platform business models in your company

About the Platform Navigator

Today, platform companies like Amazon, Alibaba, Apple and Google dominate our economy. It is also evident that many more platforms are on the rise. Platform companies have been able to outperform traditional businesses by establishing themselves as digital intermediaries. Amazon and Alibaba, for example, facilitate transactions between sellers and buyers, Apple facilitates transactions between app developers and app users, and Google facilitates transactions between ordinary web users and advertisers.


However, it is not just about digital companies that have embarked on a platform journey. Established companies are just as affected by the shift to platform business models and leveraging network effects will be vital for each and every company. At the same time, latest research shows that many companies, in particular established pipeline businesses, struggle with this new notion of doing business. This evidence was the starting point to develop ‘The Platform Navigator’. 

By reviewing the most important literature and studying more than 150 cases, we have identified 88 patterns across five phases to design and implement platform business models. Not all patterns will be helpful for your business and the patterns are certainly not exhaustive. But we believe that every manager should be aware of them to sustain competitive advantage. Thus, the pattern cards and canvas will help you navigate through the Platform Economy.


Learn more in our booklet 

Learn more in our white paper

Learn more on YouTube 

Order an English copy of the Platform Navigator here

Order a German copy of the Platform Navigator here


The Platform Navigator
I. Ideate: What opportunities exist?

We often see that companies start to develop a platform business model but have not fully understood the platform concept – not only from a conceptual point of view but also from a practical point of view. In essence, they are not aware of the diverse nature and mechanics of existing platforms. The patterns in this section serve as an inspiration and a starting point. Browse through the 21 patterns in seven distinct categories to get inspired and identify opportunities for your own business.

The Platform Navigator – Brainstorming Platform Business Models
II. Design: How do we create value?

When embarking on a platform journey, you have to understand that there are two fundamentally different types of platforms. On the one side, there are transaction platforms, also known as marketplaces, where you have buyers and sellers (e.g., eBay) or providers and consumers (e.g., Airbnb). On the other side, there are innovation platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS is a cloud platform that serves as a basis for others to innovate and develop applications on top. Designing transaction and innovation platforms requires different principles and choices. Use the 26 patterns to determine (A) the core value proposition, (B) the ownership model, and (C) the operating model for your transaction or innovation platform.

The Platform Navigator – Designing Platform Business Models
III. Monetize: How do we capture value?

In the long run, every business needs a solid monetization strategy to capture value. Platform businesses often defer monetization as it can severely harm network effects. Examples like YouTube or LinkedIn illustrate that it can even take decades until monetization. Nevertheless, most platforms have a rigid long-term strategy for monetization. Go through the 15 patterns including (A) direct monetization, (B) indirect monetization and (C) monetization tactics to discuss how you want to capture value.

The Platform Navigator – Monetzing Platform Business Models
IV. Scale: How do we grow?

Every platform business faces the famous chicken-and-egg problem. In the case of a new marketplace, for instance, no sellers mean no supply and hence no customer demand. No customers, on the other hand, mean no demand and hence no seller will engage in such a marketplace. Platforms must overcome this deadlock situation. Get inspired by 14 patterns in five categories that successful platforms have leveraged before to overcome the chicken-and-egg problem.

The Platform Navigator – Scaling Platform Business Models
V. Manage: How do we manage?

These patterns include best practices to (A) innovate and (B) defend the platform core as well as to (C) maintain network effects. Besides concrete strategies, this phase also includes universal guidelines on how to (D) monitor performance. Use the 12 pattern cards to understand early on what will become important in your future platform journey.

The Platform Navigator – Managing Platform Business Models

The Platform Canvas

As a supplement to the pattern cards, our platform business model canvas has proven to be very helpful in starting a platform project. It can be used to capture the platform idea in a clear and structured manner.

Airbnb example_Platform Business Model Canvas

Click here to download the platform business model canvas 


The canvas builds upon traditional business model building blocks, such as value proposition (What do we offer?), value creation (How do we create value?) and value capturing (Why does it generate value?), but also integrates platform-specific components such as value flow, the chicken-and-egg problem and platform management. The canvas not only supports communication with your stakeholders but also helps discussing, testing, and refining the platform idea further, for example, with your customers and partners.

For more information please contact us:

Sven Jung
Research Associate & PhD Candidate

Platform Business Models & Internet of Things 

Prof. Dr. Felix Wortmann
Scientific Director Bosch IoT Lab

The Platform Navigator in a nutshell

Browse through the images to get a better understanding of the Platform Navigator.

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The Platform Navigator
Airbnb example_Platform Business Model Canvas
The Platform Navigator