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OII Executive and Professional Education: Business in the Digital Economy

With Professor Greg Taylor
Date & Time:
09:30:00 - 17:00:00,
Friday 9 September, 2011


It is no secret that business is rapidly diffusing into the digital realm. A recent report by the Boston Consulting Group makes the potential benefits of such a shift clear: online businesses grow faster and have wider reach. Business online – with its new practices and new market dynamics – can seem far removed from its offline past. However, the fundamental psychological and behavioural forces that drive market behaviour online are closely related to those at work in the brick-and-mortar world.


In this course you will:

  • Explore the power of economics as a tool to exploit these fundamental constants in developing strategy and business practice in a world where change comes so rapidly without the benefit of a clear precedent or past experience for guidance
  • Gain important insights into e-commerce and online business more generally.
  • Benefit from the strength of a fundamentals-grounded approach in formulating strategy in response to an evolving commercial environment.

Since competition and regulation policy is often founded on economic analysis, the course will also shed light on the motivation for such intervention.

Course Outline

Understanding customers and competitors

In this introductory session we will talk about the fundamental constants that shape economic behaviour, and how these form the basis of a powerful framework for strategic thinking in a rapidly evolving business environment.

Product design, versioning and bundling

How can you design your digital products to extract the most value from the market? That is the simple question addressed in this part of the course. We will examine the hallmarks of a successful market segmentation strategy, see what kinds of circumstances lend themselves to the use of such a strategy, and discuss practical approaches to implementation.

Lock-in, network effects, and critical mass

Many digital products are ‘network goods’ that are at their most valuable when the installed user base is large. This session will cover the dynamic properties of industries characterised by such network effects, the strategic choice of product compatibility, and the leveraging of value created by a network of loyal users.

Platform pricing

Rumours of the intermediary’s demise have been wildly exaggerated. The internet has engendered a new role for so-called gatekeepers that connect transacting parties. More generally, many digital goods ultimately serve as an interface between disparate groups in one way or another so that there is de facto intermediation. Such ‘two-sided’ platforms give rise to subtle new considerations in pricing and promotional strategy. This session will examine how to effectively resolve the resulting chicken and egg pricing problem and maximise the vigour and profitability of your network.

Auctions: Market Design and Organisation

A number of important online markets eschew the typical organisational structure – characterised by posted prices – in favour of dynamic, decentralised selling mechanisms such as auctions. Examples include the selling of advertisement opportunities, B2B marketplaces, and airline ticket sales. This session will cover the ways in which the design of auctions can influence market outcomes, and the appropriate choice of bidding strategy.

Why Choose This Course?

This unique one-day course equips you to make a real impact within your organisation. As well as world-class teaching, based on the latest economic research into online business, you will:

  • Gain familiarity with the key economic issues that make doing business online different .
  • Be equipped with strategies to capitalise on these idiosyncrasies.
  • Understand why and how existing online businesses have succeeded.

Building on a traditional lecture format, you will engage with contemporary real world examples in a participatory learning environment. You will also benefit from the opportunity to network with your fellow attendees over lunch in historic Balliol College. Participants will receive a certificate of participation on completing the course.

Who Should Attend?

Leaders, strategists and consultants responsible for developing strategy and business practice online. The course is accessible to non-specialists and no knowledge of economics is assumed.

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