34 COMMUNICATIONS OF THE ACM | OCTOBER 2017 | VOL. 60 | NO. 10
a number of ways. To start, the framework identifies which capabilities are
required for each type of platform to attain completeness.
Conversely, the framework suggests
which business functions are vulnerable to different types of disruptions
due to their incompleteness. It also
provides a way to think about transitions from partial to complete platforms, the implications of these, and
the opportunities that would motivate
such transitions. Finally, the framework permits us to examine new technologies in terms of the businesses
they are likely to impact. Technologies
that facilitate platform completion
along a specific dimension will likely
affect businesses that are incomplete
along that dimension.
Complete platforms may also be
created, by design, de novo. Amazon
and PayPal are early examples in retail
and payments. Peer-to-peer lending
and robo-advisor platforms are recent
instances of complete platforms in
finance. Lending Tree, for example,
Lack of open access is not the only
way in which a finance platform may
be incomplete. Yahoo Finance, for ex-
ample, is incomplete because it lacks
key business processes to complete
transactions. Ratings agencies are in-
complete because most of their key val-
ue-adding business processes require
human expertise and are not amenable
to codification in IT systems.
The Venn diagram shown in the accompanying figure provides a graphical view of our framework, which combines the three platform components
and also provides some examples.
The intersection at the center defines
complete platforms; all of the other
regions denote incomplete ones. The
Venn diagram representation is intuitive. The businesses on the periphery
of the diagram tend to be those that
play supporting roles, rather than central ones, in the life cycle of financial
transactions. The platform framework
can be useful for analyzing incumbent
and new entrant business models in
SPRING 2016 VOL. 22 • NO. 3
XRDSSUMMER 2016 VOL. 22 • NO.4CrossroadsTheACMMagazineforStudents
WINTER 2015 VOL. 22 • NO. 2
Are you a student who
enjoys staying up to
date with the latest
tech innovations, and is
looking to make an impact
on the ACM community?
are now open.
For more information
and to apply visit:
The three core components of a complete platform with examples of platform businesses
exhibiting various levels of completeness.