How the leading Chinese real estate brokerage transformed into a digital platform business

Yanli Zhang, Lixia Yao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: In this article, we study how a Chinese real estate broker - Lianjia successfully transformed itself into Beike - China’s leading digital platform for housing transactions and services. We explain the motivation behind this platform transformation, how it turned out, and what are the lessons learned for other companies contemplating a platform transformation. Beike’s lessons are significant as they not only can help the companies achieve growth via platform transformation but also create social value by contributing to higher service quality in traditional service industries. Design/methodology/approach: We draw upon comprehensive archival research into Beike, and our many years of ongoing research on platform strategy and business growth strategy. Findings: This article provides important lessons for companies in traditional service industries on how to expand growth via digital platforms. We summarize four key lessons learned: 1) data is central to success in platform transformation; 2) industry knowledge and experience play an important role; 3) the right platform governance is critical in value creation; 4) harness the double powers of platform and digital transformation. Research limitations/implications: More research on digital platforms and platform transformation in traditional service industries is needed to delve into the underlying factors and delineate the boundary conditions for specific details in this strategy and implementation. Practical implications: This article is useful to business executives, academics, management consultants, and entrepreneurs interested in learning more about how to use digital platforms to achieve business growth and create economic and social value. In particular, Beike’s case offers inspiration and valuable lessons to companies in traditional service industries and helps them consider the factors that are important in the process of platform transformation. Social Implications: This article on Beike provides an innovative solution to business leaders in traditional service industries grappling with a lack of professional standards and trust to use digital platforms to elevate service quality and create social value. Originality/value: This article is unique and add value because Beike is a pioneer of using the digital platform to achieve growth and transform traditional service industries. Our study shows that platform transformation not only can help a company in a traditional industry achieve impressive growth but at the same time can create enormous social value by elevating the service quality of the whole industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalStrategy and Leadership
Issue number1
StatePublished - 17 Jan 2022


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