Interview study report: Do Finnish companies capitalise on opportunities in the platform economy?

This signal post summarizes our newest research report on an interview study that explores how Finnish companies view and capitalise on opportunities in the platform economy. The study is based on interviews that were conducted in Finland and in the USA in 2019 with companies from various business sectors such as food, pulp and paper, manufacturing and security.

For more details, read the full report.

Interview study

The aim of our interview study was to find out how Finnish companies view and capitalise on opportunities in the evolving platform economy, the phenomenon that we broadly define as a way of creating value and organizing layered (business or other) activities enabled by digital platforms, information and data.

The guiding research questions for this work were:

  1. How do Finnish companies understand the concept of the platform economy in general and in their business sector?
  2. What opportunities and threats do Finnish companies perceive in terms of the technological, social and political aspects of the platform economy?
  3. What factors act as drivers or barriers in the process of Finnish companies entering the platform economy?
  4. How do the findings from Finnish companies compare to those from the USA?

In 2019, a total of 10 interviews were conducted in Finland and 8 interviews in the USA, representing various business sectors such as food, pulp and paper, manufacturing and security. The rationale for complementing the Finnish interviews with a handful of American interviews was to gain a rough overview of the similarities and differences between the two, even if meticulous comparisons could not be made based on these limited samples.

Results and recommendations

The results of the study reveal new aspects of Finnish companies’ attitudes and preparedness for the uptake of platform economy opportunities. For example, the companies appeared to be well aware and informed about the platform economy and platform-based business models even if risk-averse attitudes and the legacy of traditional non-platform businesses were described as significantly slowing progress. In comparison, the interviews in the USA focused more on how important it is to make progress fast and learn from the more rapidly changing sectors. The American companies also seemed less risk-averse, more open to data sharing and more strongly customer-driven in their service development.

We conclude our report with a discussion and analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of Finnish companies in the emerging platform economy. These are further processed into recommendations for the Finnish companies and public sector decision-makers.

Key recommendations for the Finnish companies that are willing to capitalise on the opportunities of the platform economy (for details, see the full report):

  1. Dream big and adopt a bold mindset.
  2. Identify and address the bottlenecks.
  3. Build and join partnerships and ecosystems.
  4. Listen to the customers’ needs and values.

Key recommendations for Finnish public sector decision-makers who are willing to support progress in the platform economy (for details, see the full report):

  1. Maintain support measures and address gaps in the innovation chain.
  2. Tap into the positive social and societal aspects and potential of platforms.
  3. Enable business and safeguard public interest through regulations and improve response time.
  4. Deepen public-private collaboration.

For more information

Auvinen, H., & Koivisto, R. (2020). How do Finnish companies view and capitalise on opportunities in the evolving platform economy? Interview study. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. VTT Technology, No. 376

Heidi Auvinen

Senior Scientist VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd
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