GRA 3116 The Digital Platform - Strategy, Structure and Content

GRA 3116 The Digital Platform - Strategy, Structure and Content

Course code: 
GRA 3116
Department: 
Communication and Culture
Credits: 
6
Course coordinator: 
Eliane Bucher
Christian Fieseler
Course name in Norwegian: 
The Digital Platform - Strategy, Structure and Content
Product category: 
Master
Portfolio: 
MSc in Digital Communication Management
Semester: 
2023 Autumn
Active status: 
Active
Level of study: 
Master
Teaching language: 
English
Course type: 
One semester
Introduction

The rise of the platform economy has brought on radical changes to the way we work, socialize and create value (Kenney and Zysman, 2016). Digital platforms such as Airbnb, Google, Amazon, Salesforce, GitHub and many more act as service-providers, marketplaces, sales-channels, mediators or hubs for data, code and tools. Platforms may be global enterprises or local niche players. They may follow a pure online strategy or be part of a hybrid business model. They may be for profit entities or embody community-based prosocial movements. They may be value drivers themselves or channels in the marketing mix. What all players in the platform economy have in common is their basic building block – the platform. Good platforms are rooted in a consistent strategy, they are intuitive in their architecture, convincing in their design with content that is highly accessible through organic web searches and they fit seamlessly into the broader platform ecosystem. Today’s decision-makers will not only have to engage with platforms as a part of their daily work, but they also need to be able to understand, develop and manage digital platforms. This course will take you through all stages of a platform development project combining theory on platform and content strategizing, insight from practitioners and hands-on work with user experience management tools

This course takes on the perspective of a decision-maker on the business-side of a platform project and will enable you to initiate, plan and manage a platform development project. Participants will gain a fundamental understanding of the platform economy and its basic building block – the digital platform. In particular, they will learn how to set up their own platform strategy and which steps to take on the way to a deployable platform. Furthermore, they will learn to go beyond the launch of their platform and maintain a digital innovation pipeline for their digital product. Ideally, the course would be set up for about 40 students, so that sessions can be designed interactive and with a focus on direct application of the learned theories and concepts (see examination).

Students are asked to ‘build’ their own platform or platform element (website, app or feature). Based on the course modules, they will complete bi-weekly assignments where they will develop a basic platform strategy, develop a wireframe and choose a design approach, define a content strategy, set up a project plan and a hypothetical performance dashboard.

Learning outcomes - Knowledge
  • Advanced knowledge of the building blocks of digital platform ecosystems
  • Thorough and critical understanding of how digital platforms impact organizations and society
  • Apply the foundations of user psychology to user experience management
  • Apply different analytical methods towards designing effective and sustainable platform strategies
  • Advanced knowledge of fair design principles regarding power, privacy and participation.
Learning outcomes - Skills
  • Building a consistent platform strategy based on vision, market need and audiences
  • Analyze and deal critically with key audiences based on user personas
  • Identify an appropriate and relevant channel (website, app, feature…) and draft a convincing user-experience using wireframes
  • Identify relevant project management methods and set up a digital project management plan weighing constraints of time, budget and scope
  • Use existing user-data and user profiles to craft an individual content plan and ensure its relevance to audiences and search engines
  • Set-up a performance dashboard, identifying the key metrics to monitor continuous needs for improvement
General Competence
  • Defining strategic vision, specific audiences and measurable goals of a platform project, e.g. act effectively as head of digital platforms
  • Setting-up a platform project with different stakeholders, e.g. act effectively as a digital platform owner
  • Identifying and resolving potential areas of conflict within business and IT teams during a platform project, e.g. act effectively as a digital platform manager on the business side
  • Briefing agencies and partners towards a desired user experience, e.g. act effectively as a UX-Manager on the business side
  • Deriving KPIs from the overarching goals and plan continuous measurement and communication towards key audiences within the organization, e.g. act effectively as a business intelligence specialist or data scientist.
Course content
  1. Platform Strategy
    1. Understanding the Audience (gains, pains, goals)
    2. Understanding the Market (learn from the best in class)
    3. Vision & Goals
    4. Setting up the PMO (Timing, Resources, Scope)
  2. Architecture and Design
    1. Defining and prioritizing key features
    2. Setting up the structure/architecture
    3. Defining a design (CI/CD)
  3. Building and Scaling the Platform
    1. Agile vs. Waterfall Development
    2. Testing and Prototyping
    3. Pitfalls to avoid
    4. Self-Development vs. integrating partners (build, partner, invest)
    5. Cornerstones of successful Collaborations
  4. Creating the right Content
    1. Setting up the editorial plan
    2. Reaching the right audiences
      1. Setting up a SEO Strategy
      2. Setting up a SEA Strategy
    3. Working with Content Creators (e.g. Influencers, Journalists, etc.)
  5. Monitoring, Maintenance and continuous Refinement
    1. Defining key-metrics and KPIs
    2. Setting up a measurement dashboard
    3. Continuously learning from user behavior (quant and qual)
    4. Maintaining an active innovation pipeline
  6. Incorporating fair design principles
    1. Ensuring universal Accessibility
    2. Designing Privacy and Participation Mechanisms
Teaching and learning activities

The course combines formal lectures which provide an arena to discuss the themes encountered in the readings and to help with any problems in understanding the foundational concepts, with exploration of how these will impact the business and social context.

Furthermore, there will be two blocks of guest lectures focusing on User experience management and design and on Content creation and SEO.

Finally, students will prepare project deliverables for each of the key themes of the lecture (strategy, ux-design, project plan, content strategy, measurement dashboard)

The course will consist of the following elements:

  • Formal lectures to gain a collective understanding of the readings;
  • Guest lectures by practice experts to gain insights on artificial intelligence.
Software tools
No specified computer-based tools are required.
Additional information

Please note that it is the student’s own responsibility to obtain any information provided in class that is not included on itslearning.

Examination
The participants will be asked to work on five interlocking tasks, as outlined below. All platform elements are to be handed in as one paper for the final submission

  • first develop an idea for a platform of their choosing and detail their initial vision in writing of up to five pages. This writeup contains not only the vision of their platform, but also a description of their envisioned market, and a persona-based description of their core audience.
  • second, students will create a first wireframe prototype of their platform, mapping out an initial user experience and guidance through the offering, again in writing of up to five pages, including a wireframe walkthrough with description
  • third, students will create a realization plan, on the strategic level, how they will realize the platform, again in writing of up to five pages and identifying key resources and partners to implement their idea.
  • fourth, students will draft an initial content plan, in writing of up to five pages, with which contents they will engage their audience and how they plan their SEO strategy (their tactical plan)
  • fifth, students will write a final evaluation of their idea, of up to five pages, that includes the definition of performance metrics, and a plan for the continuous improvement of their application.

The examination for this course has been changed from autumn 2023. It is not possible to resit the old version of the examination.

Qualifications

All courses in the Masters programme will assume that students have fulfilled the admission requirements for the programme. In addition, courses in second, third and/or fourth semester can have specific prerequisites and will assume that students have followed normal study progression. For double degree and exchange students, please note that equivalent courses are accepted.

Disclaimer

Deviations in teaching and exams may occur if external conditions or unforeseen events call for this.

Exam categoryWeightInvigilationDurationGroupingComment exam
Exam category:
Submission
Form of assessment:
Written submission
Exam code:
GRA 31164
Grading scale:
ECTS
Grading rules:
Internal examiner
Resit:
Examination when next scheduled course
100No1 Semester(s)Group/Individual (1 - 4)The paper encompasses all five assignments previously completed in the course (strategy, UX architecture, project plan, content plan, KPI dashboard).
Exams:
Exam category:Submission
Form of assessment:Written submission
Weight:100
Invigilation:No
Grouping (size):Group/Individual (1-4)
Duration:1 Semester(s)
Comment:The paper encompasses all five assignments previously completed in the course (strategy, UX architecture, project plan, content plan, KPI dashboard).
Exam code:GRA 31164
Grading scale:ECTS
Resit:Examination when next scheduled course
Type of Assessment: 
Ordinary examination
Total weight: 
100
Student workload
ActivityDurationComment
Teaching
36 Hour(s)
Prepare for teaching
64 Hour(s)
Group work / Assignments
80 Hour(s)
Sum workload: 
180

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 6 ECTS credits corresponds to a workload of at least 160 hours.