04-801-N1   Electronic Business and Technology

Location: Africa

Units: 6

Semester Offered: Intermittent

Course description

The coursework includes in-class discussions and a final course project: constructing and implementing a small online shop for a digital platform business model. Students will group in teams of 2-3 students. It is essential to begin work on the course project at the start of the course. The students will be divided into teams of 3. Every team is required to build a small online shop for certain products or services of their choice and present their group work during the last meeting of the class.

Students will be provided access to a certain widely used online shop tool (e.g., WordPress/WooCommerce). Each team has to make a proposal for an online shop, which will be discussed in class. Then each team shall construct a prototype using the provided online shop tool. Aside from the technical realization, business aspects such as product categories, SEO-optimized descriptions, and pictures are to be covered. The project and prototype will be presented in the last meeting.

Platform business models are widely covered in the news and in scientific articles as well. They can be found in various industries and variations, some of the most successful companies in the world make extensive use of a platform business model (e.g., Uber (USA), Meta (USA), Byte dance (PRC), Vuba Vuba (RW)). Different kinds of platforms can be found, among them aggregation platforms, social platforms, mobilization platforms, and learning platforms (Hagel 2015). Platform businesses refer to a business model (not a technology infrastructure) that focuses on helping to facilitate interactions across many participants. Typically, the role of the platform business is to provide a governance structure and a set of standards and protocols that facilitate interactions at scale so that network effects can be unleashed. Students work on a platform business model and realize a platform prototype.

Learning objectives

  • A structured way of thinking is essential as the students have to analyze an enterprise use case and develop a platform business model and a prototype solution.
  • Students will be able to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering.
  • As the prototype, which will be developed by the students in this course, is a real-world company example, students will be able to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of cultural and economic factors.
  • Students will be able to communicate effectively with a range of audiences as there will be extensive in-class discussions in this course.
  • As students will work in teams of 2-3, they will be able to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives.
  • During this course, students will develop a prototype, which will improve their ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions. As students will improve their knowledge of platform business models and their realization with standard tools, they will be able to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.


After completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Explain the importance of platform business models and their use in enterprises.
  • Describe the advantages and disadvantages of platform business models used in enterprises.
  • Assess the business value of the platform business models use.
  • Develop a prototype using web-based software (e.g., WordPress/WooCommerce) for use in an enterprise use case.
  • Present and discuss their results with students in class and faculty.

Content details

  • Overview of platform business models
  • Features of platform business models and corresponding software tools
  • Advantages and disadvantages of platform business models
  • Use cases for the application of platform business models in enterprises
  • Development of a platform business model and prototype using a web-based software
  • Presentation and discussion of the results




Bernhard Ostheimer