Article | Harvard Business Review | September–October 2017
Managing Our Hub Economy: Strategy, Ethics, and Network Competition in the Age of Digital Superpowers
Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani
A small number of digital superpowers—Alibaba, Amazon, Microsoft, and others—have become “hub firms” because they control access to billions of mobile customers coveted by all kinds of product and service providers. These hubs drive increasing returns to scale and claim a disproportionate share of the value being created in the global economy. The authors argue that the hub economy will continue to spread across more industries, concentrating more power in the hands of a few. As an example, they take an in-depth look at the auto industry and how Apple and Alphabet/Google are poised to become the main beneficiaries as cars turn into digitally connected spaces for work, entertainment, and shopping. As hubs proliferate and expand their reach, the danger is that they will exacerbate economic inequality and threaten social stability. It is thus incumbent on all stakeholders—traditional companies, start-ups, institutions, and communities—to make certain changes in the ways they do business. Moreover, hub firms themselves must do a better job leading responsibly for the good of all, not just creating and capturing value but doing more to sustain other players in the ecosystem.
Keywords: Competition; Strategic Planning; Auto Industry; Technology Industry;