Growing a Platform Business While Adapting the Industry Phase: An Exploratory Case Study on Billy Operating the Danish Accounting Industry

Philip Westerlin Roslyng

Student thesis: Master thesis


Platform businesses are often characterized as two-sided with distinct user groups, but who need one another and uses the platform to transact. In addition, the emerging phenomenon of platform businesses often operate on an eco-system level with potential to impact concurrent industries, such as Uber and Airbnb impacting Taxi companies and Hotels. This thesis provides an exploratory research into how a platform-based accounting business, Billy, experiences growth on the Danish SME market. Founded in the technological development of online-platform businesses, this thesis finds, that new and emerging accounting systems has successfully shifted its two-sided user focus from mainly serving auditors and bookkeepers (specialists) to now serving companies (end-users). This has thus stirred the somewhat conservative and traditional industry in its entirety, when going from complex to simple processes for the benefit of the end-users. The rapid innovation and enduser-centric focus has created a market-rivalry with emerging online accounting platforms taking on established and vice versa. The context is furthermore paradoxical challenged, as accounting platforms like Billy need specialists to grow, but are increasing specialists’ redundancy through innovation development. The thesis will identify the distinct characteristics of platform-based businesses’ in the contextual frame of accounting. This is done by investigating and essentially explaining the strategic challenges for Billy in order to ‘grow their platform business while adapting the industry phase’. Hereof, a theoretical framework will be developed on merging platform theory and industry phase theory. The original framework will be altered throughout the research in order to match the case of Billy. The altering is composed by analyzing empirical data in a theoretical context. Findings point to challenges of a potentially industry impact by an industry phase shift towards a discontinuity. Combined with a high market rivalry the research makes suggestions on how to prepare Billy for such challenges. Other findings highlighted the use of innovation could potentially help Billy’s disengagement from the high rivalry. A suggestion in approaching this challenge is by balancing Billy’s way of connecting their users of their platform on a ‘counselling’ and ‘routine-based’-work functioning level.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages81