Time2Play - Multi-sided Platform for Sports Facilities:
A Disruptive Digital Platform
Dinis Caldas
, Estrela Ferreira Cruz
and Ant
onio Miguel Rosado da Cruz
Instituto Polit
ecnico de Viana do Castelo, 4900-347, Viana do Castelo, Portugal
Centro ALGORITMI, Escola de Engenharia, Universidade do Minho, Guimar
aes, Portugal
Business Model Innovation, Multi-sided Platforms, Digital Transformation, Platform Revolution, Digital
Platforms, Digital Economy, Two-sided Market, Network Effects.
Digital platforms drive disrupting businesses, supported by emerging technological improvements. These
platforms enable new business models that use technology to connect people, organizations and resources in
an interactive ecosystem where all the affiliates to the platform can create, add and capture value. This drives us
to an innovative technology-driven business model called multi-sided platforms that is transforming our lives
in ways that would be impossible to think a few decades ago. This new business model, platform-based and
value-driven, enables direct interactions and/or transactions between two or more affiliates, enabling network
effects, and consequently increasing the value of the network where affiliates belong to. Creating value through
business model innovation is the engine of the success behind this kind of platforms. The main goal of this
project is to build an innovative multi-sided platform to become a reference on the booking of sports facilities
sector bringing together sports facilities’ owners and players. The proposed platform is modeled and presented,
after being characterized through analysing the most similar tools in the market, and comparing them with a
Blue Ocean Strategy tool, namely [yellow tail] value curve.
Creating value through business model innovation is
recognized as the main driver of the success of well-
known companies on the global landscape (Amit and
Zott, 2015).
Over the last decades, the success of web-based
platforms prompted the interest of several companies
around the globe. Parker et al. share their vision
about this phenomenon, reflecting the major impor-
tance of digital platforms and the way that they rad-
ically changed business. “Platforms are eating the
world. The disruption they are driving is reaching
businesses one industry at a time and is likely to
hit practically all information-intensive industries at
some point” (Parker et al., 2017). This new digi-
tal platform approach is characterized as a disruptive
force, but it can also provide important lessons on
how any business can operate in a more efficient way.
The same authors defines a digital platform as a busi-
ness model that uses technology to connect people,
organizations, and resources in an interactive ecosys-
Contact Authors.
tem in which remarkable amounts of value can be cre-
ated and exchanged (Parker et al., 2017).
There are several online booking platforms right
now available on the market that are references on
their respective sectors, such as Airbnb, Uber, Book-
ing, Cabify, Lyft, among several other well world-
wide known examples. To the best of our knowl-
edge, there’s not, right now available on the market,
any worldwide known and referenced platform on the
sports facilities booking sector, hindering a prompt
and easy answer to any of the following questions,
“what if I do want to book a sport’s facility, on a given
location, date and time?”, or “what if I do need to
invite more people, to reach a minimum number of
players, and know their availability, to practice a cer-
tain group sport’s modality, on a given location, date
and time?”, or “what if I do own one or more sports
facilities and I want to register and list online any of
my spaces, with all the details about them, including
their availability and price per hour to be booked?”.
And, this is despite the large number of private and
public sports facilities all over the world. To enable
an answer to these questions, we present in this paper
the conceptualization and development of Time2Play,
Caldas, D., Cruz, E. and Rosado da Cruz, A.
Time2Play - Multi-sided Platform for Sports Facilities: A Disruptive Digital Platform.
DOI: 10.5220/0009412902690277
In Proceedings of the 22nd International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems (ICEIS 2020) - Volume 2, pages 269-277
ISBN: 978-989-758-423-7
2020 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
an online platform that will allow any user to find the
availability of sports facilities, to practice a sport’s
modality on a given location, date and time. In addi-
tion, any registered user should be able to invite other
users, either registered or not, in order to reach the
minimum players required to practice a certain sport’s
modality, on a given location, date and time. This
should be possible after organizing an event such as
a football game, for example, where the organizer or
anyone already enrolled in the event should be able
to invite additional users. Moreover, the owner of
each sport’s facility registered on Time2Play will be
able to describe the sport’s facility, providing as much
information as possible to allow the user to decide
which alternatives are the best for their goals. Each
user should have available all the relevant informa-
tion that they might need to book the sport’s facility,
such as the price per hour, accepted payment modali-
ties, images, if it’s an indoor or outdoor facility, what
equipment is available for the practice of the sport’s
modality, and if it’s included on the booking price or
if it’s an additional cost, among other relevant infor-
mation. Time2Play also will provide information on
the weather forecast for a given location and time, to
provide as much information as possible to the user,
to ease their decision process.
This paper is structured as follows. Section 2 de-
scribes the methodological approach used in this re-
search project. In section 3, some major concepts re-
lated with multi-sided platforms, network value and
structure are presented, mentioning the supporting
major studies. Section 4, describes some related plat-
forms, and analyzes and compares them in detail, be-
tween each other and to the proposed platform. Sec-
tion 5 presents the platform conceptualization. Sec-
tion 6 presents some details on how the models have
been addressed in the implementation, and finally,
section 7 presents some ideas for future work, to-
gether with the main conclusions.
This project is structured according Design Science
Research (DSR) methodology that requires the cre-
ation of innovative artifacts in order to solve a spe-
cific problem on a specific domain. This method-
ology is based on iterative and sequential approach
through six main activities: problem identification
and motivation, objectives definition, design and de-
velopment, demonstration, evaluation and communi-
cation (Hevner et al., 2004; Cruz et al., 2014). This
iterative process should respect the sequence and or-
der of activities, however, some phases (steps) can be
repeated as many times as required in order to achieve
the best and accurate result possible. So even being on
the iteration evaluation or, even, communication, near
the end of the iterative process, it can go back a few
iterations, to objectives definition or to design and de-
velopment, if required. But then, going forward, all
the phases will have to be repeated sequentially.
The innovation theory is the edge where technolog-
ical improvements meet newer and innovative busi-
ness models. In the earlies of 1942, the economist
Joseph A. Schumpeter described the process of inno-
vation as “the process of industrial mutation that in-
cessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from
within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly
creating a new one” (Schumpeter, 1942). Schum-
peter’s work on innovation theory supports that inno-
vation is the engine of economic growth. However,
there may be cost associated with it, that is the dy-
namic process of innovation that he called as creative
destruction, where successive waves of technological
innovations, or, more precisely, disruptive technologi-
cal changes, can transform existing industries and cre-
ate value by destroying previous economic structures.
Even though, not all innovations result on this cre-
ative destruction process. There are two major types
of innovation: radical (disruptive) and incremental in-
novations. Disruptive innovations are the result of the
creative destruction process described above. Incre-
mental innovations are defined as improvements and
enhancements to a product, process or service with-
out changing them radically (Trott, 2017; Evans and
Schmalensee, 2016). Kaplan’s (Kaplan, 2015) com-
plementary vision of the innovation process supports
the idea that an innovation can simply derive from the
careful analysis of the market. Therefore, on his as-
sessment, “Innovation is not always about coming up
with the next big idea. It might be about combining
existing ideas and parts in a new way”.
Mauborgne and Kim developed a framework fo-
cused on key competitive factors of the, direct or in-
direct, competitors of a company in order to analyze
them very carefully and build an innovative business
model (Mauborgne and Kim, 2005). These authors
agree that the innovative process should be value-
driven, and to achieve this goal one has to understand
what the market is already offering. Thus, this in-
ICEIS 2020 - 22nd International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
novative framework, known as Blue Ocean Strategy,
supported for some tools, such as canvas strategy, an-
alyzes what should be created/added, removed, raised
and reduced in order to create a different and valu-
able offer to the market. In a world where business
models are evolving rapidly, and new competitors can
emerge overnight, it is mandatory, for any company,
to innovate in order to stay relevant on the market.
It’s important to understand that an innovative busi-
ness model can either create a new market or allow
a company to create and exploit new opportunities on
existing markets (Still et al., 2017; Evans et al., 2006).
3.1 Multi-sided Platforms
In 2003, Jean-Charles Rochet and Jean Tirole stud-
ied an innovative technology-driven business model
based on direct interactions between two or more af-
filiates (Rochet and Tirole, 2003). The disruptive
power of web-based platforms is transforming our
lives in ways that would have been impossible a few
decades ago. In 2014, Jean Tirole received the No-
bel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for a num-
ber of important accomplishments, but mostly due to
his pioneering contributions to the new economics of
multi-sided markets. Multi-sided platforms are de-
fined as technologies, applications or services that
create value by enabling and facilitating direct inter-
actions and/or transactions between two or more affil-
iates (multiple sides) (Rochet and Tirole, 2003; Am-
strong, 2006), (Hagiu and Wright, 2015). On multi-
sided platforms, users and groups can be thought of as
nodes and the major role of the platform is to enable
direct and valuable interactions between them.
The main questions on this innovative business
model are how many sides to bring on board and what
kind of ties to establish between affiliates. So, looking
to the current market offer it’s important to understand
what the market is already providing, on which terms,
and define the new business model, either creating
a new market, or just competing on existing ones,
creating and exploiting new opportunities. Among
the best-known examples of multi-sided platforms,
we can mention Airbnb, bringing together residence
owners and renters; Uber, enabling direct interactions
between professional drivers and passengers; Face-
book, brings on board users, advertisers and affiliated
third-party sites; and, Amazon, eBay and Alibaba, en-
abling direct interactions between buyers and sellers
(Parker et al., 2017; Evans and Schmalensee, 2016).
Moreover, Airbnb, Amazon and Uber are examples of
successful multi-sided platforms that are worldwide
recognized, not only by their customers, but as well
by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), on their annual
report as most innovative companies.
Key features characterizing a multi-sided platform
are the capacity to enable direct interactions between
two or more sides that are affiliated with the plat-
form, there is value (co)creation for the intervenient,
is a value-based platform and enable network effects
(Parker et al., 2017; Evans and Schmalensee, 2016;
Rochet and Tirole, 2003; Hagiu and Wright, 2015).
Enabling interactivity, connectivity and the cre-
ation of ties helps users to derive value from the net-
work, turning the network more attractive to poten-
tial new subscribers. This phenomenon is called net-
work effect and represents a new economic achieve-
ment, driven by technological innovation. Network
effects, sometimes referred as Metcalfe’s Law, are
also known as network externalities or, as demand-
side economies of scale. They occur on situations
where a product or service becomes more valuable
to the user as the density or the number of users
increases (Bellaflame and Peitz, 2016) (Veljanovski,
2007). Value co-creation is a very important concept
related with network effects, since users or groups can
be considered a valuable part of the value chain (cre-
ation, addition and exchange) to the network that they
belong to (de Oliveira and Cortimiglia, 2017). Based
on the basic key features described above, it’s easy to
understand that a single affiliation is not sufficient to
define a multi-sided platform. Amazon adopted, for
several years, a business model of pure retailer but
decided to move over a multi-sided platform business
model as growth strategy, by enabling and facilitat-
ing direct interactions by third-party sellers with buy-
ers using exclusively their own platform (Gawer and
Cusumano, 2015).
3.2 Understanding the Network Value
and Structure
When network effects are present, understanding the
key sources of the network’s value, is important to
understand the structure of the network itself. The
value of a product or service increases as the number
of users grow. Thus, network effects are among the
most powerful strategic and key resources that can be
delivered by technology-based innovation (Adner and
Kapoor, 2009). In (Hariharan, 2016), different theo-
ries and approaches are presented and compared, re-
lated to network-effects-value, in order to measure the
effective value of a network. Even being totally dif-
ferent theoretical approaches, and based on a distinct
value definition premises, they converge and agree on
an extremely significant conclusion, for network ef-
fect theory: that the network value is directly related
with the network size. The first network value ap-
Time2Play - Multi-sided Platform for Sports Facilities: A Disruptive Digital Platform
proach mentioned on their study is known in the lit-
erature as Sarnoffs law, and it defends that, in broad-
cast networks, the value of the network is linearly
proportional to the number of viewers. The network
value is represented by,
NetworkValue = N (1)
(where N is the number of network nodes or users).
The second approach is known as Metcalfe’s law
(Li, 2008), perhaps one of the most worldwide rec-
ognized network value theories. Metcalfe’s law, de-
Figure 1: Metcalfe’s Law (Extracted from (Li, 2008)).
picted in Figure 1, is the most widely accepted model,
to explain the “web-effect”. This theory, named af-
ter Robert Metcalfe, co-inventor of the Ethernet and
co-founder of 3Com, pointed out that the value of
a telephone network grows nonlinearly as the num-
ber of subscribers of the network increases, making
more connections among subscribers possible. The
original theory was trying to explain the logic be-
hind the sale of networking cards, that the cost of the
cards was proportional to the number of devices in-
stalled and the value of the network was proportional
to the square of compatibility of communicating de-
vices. Thus, this theory defends that the value of the
network is proportional to the square of the number of
connected users. This may be expressed algebraically
as having a cost of N and a value of N
NetworkValue = N
Metcalfe’s Law is a useful way of encapsulating how
network effects create value for those who participate
in a network, as well as for those who own or manage
the network. Based on this approach, the steady state,
or breakeven-point, is defined as critical mass, after
which the network will become self-sustainable and
produce further growth by itself.
The third, and last, theory presented on their study
was the Reed’s law, which defends that the network
value can increase exponentially with the size of the
network. Algebraically, this is represented by,
NetworkValue = 2
For all above expressions, just note that N needs to
be greater than one, since when there’s only one node
in a network no connections are possible. This study
concludes that the more people are connected to a net-
work, the more valuable the network is to each person
that is part of it, regardless of the typology of the net-
work. This principle is a phenomenon called direct
network effect, also referred as a positive direct net-
work externality, since the value achieved by the in-
creasing number of the network members results on a
positive effect to the entire network.
Establishing a valuable ecosystem around the net-
work can help to sustain and stay relevant to their
members in the long term. The network structure af-
fects the network value in multiple ways. First, when
designing a network, the priority should be on cre-
ating a structure that provides every user the ability
to interact with each other, in order to maximize the
connections within the network, increasing value to
the user. There are some exceptions, such as when
on a network it is allowed to restrict user interactions
by creating restrictive groups. Even thought, while
being part of these restricted groups, the users can
still continue adding and capturing value to their re-
stricted group members, thus benefitting by being part
of that sub-network. The only difference would be
that they’re not sharing this value with the entire net-
work. Thus, the network structure affects how mem-
bers can position themselves inside the network and
how they can capture or add value. Therefore, on a
closed network, the network effects are more limited
than on an open network, where the network effects
grow exponentially (Evans and Schmalensee, 2016;
Bellaflame and Peitz, 2016; Veljanovski, 2007). The
way ties are built between users and groups inside the
network impacts on how much they can derive value
from the network (Bellaflame and Peitz, 2016; Vel-
janovski, 2007).
Even if not considered a reference on this sector, there
are a few platforms that enable booking a sports facil-
ity. Of these, we have selected three that we consid-
ered to have the most disrupting features.
The first platform is AirCourts
(www.aircourts.com), a Portuguese company
that has as core business the development of an
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system designed
specifically for the management of sports facilities
and, additionally, they provide the possibility of
registering, listing and booking a sport’s facility
on-line. This is the only sports facilities related
booking platform in Portugal that we were able to
find. According to the information available on their
ICEIS 2020 - 22nd International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
Figure 2: [yellow Tail] Value Curve for Analyzing the “competition” in Booking Platforms for Sport Facilities.
own website they have registered near six hundred
sports facilities, all located in Portugal. This is an
extremely low number considering the amount of
sports facilities, private and public, that are currently
available. This might be due to the fee that is charged
to have access to the software, which might be a
barrier to increase the number of sports facilities
registered and to potential new clients.
The second platform is Prenota un Campo
(www.prenotauncampo.it), a web-based platform that
allows to register, list and book sports facilities. This
is a free Italian platform, with only Italian clients, and
the core business is the booking of sports facilities.
The third platform is OpenPlay (openplay.net).
This is not a free platform and the registration is
mandatory to have access to the functionality. It is
based in the United Kingdom and the core business is
a management platform for sports facilities and book-
ings. However, they don’t have a single list where
to consult any sport’s facility registered on the plat-
form. We have considered this platform as relevant
for this comparative analysis since, from the manage-
ment perspective, it is very complete, intuitive and
useful, since it has several dashboards that can give
fast and easy access to relevant data.
The state of the art is analyzed through the use of
a tool available in the Blue Ocean Strategy approach
(Mauborgne and Kim, 2005). We will use the canvas
strategy, which is a diagnostic and action framework,
that identifies positive and negative key factors and
features, and we’ll represent the output graphically.
This graphic is known as [yellow tail] value curve and
provides a representation of a company relatively to
their direct or indirect competitors, or even, to a rep-
resentative market segment and the strategic direction
that we want to define to our company (Mauborgne
and Kim, 2005). In this analysis, the competitors are
the three above identified platforms in the sports fa-
cilities booking sector (see Figure 2).
While selecting the above platforms, we have de-
fined a set of key factors and features that we consid-
ered the most relevant in order to build a successful
booking platform for sports facilities. For that, an ex-
tensive research has been made on what similar plat-
forms, even belonging to different sectors, are offer-
ing to their users. We tried to understand the way each
platform is creating and capturing value for/from each
user. Then we decided which key features the new
Time2Play platform should have. Additionally, and
respecting the premises of this framework we have
decided, as well, what features to create as innova-
tive elements. Those key factors and features are the
Closed platform;
Price of non-Premium services;
Book a sport facility [end user];
List a sport facility [owner];
Pay per booking [owner];
Rating of sport facilities;
Dashboards [users, owners and administrators];
Organize an event;
Invite registered/non-registered users to an event;
Each key factor and feature described previously is
evaluated in a range from low to high, comparing the
three platforms mentioned above. Additionally, we
have evaluated on the same scale, the same factors
and features for our new platform Time2Play, as well,
and defined the strategy. Figure 2 represents the [yel-
low tail] value curve for the three above mentioned
platforms together with Time2Play. The factors pre-
sented above are being compared, for each platform,
and are presented in the horizontal axis. An important
Time2Play - Multi-sided Platform for Sports Facilities: A Disruptive Digital Platform
Figure 3: Use Cases Diagram for the Time2Play Platform.
ICEIS 2020 - 22nd International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
and valuable part of this representation is that, based
on the evaluation for each company, it should be de-
cided what to eliminate, reduce, raise and create/add
in order to achieve what we think is the optimum for
the Time2Play platform.
From this analysis, reading the [yellow tail] value
curve presented in Figure 2, the platform being pro-
posed should provide the new differentiating features
of organizing a sport’s event and inviting players for
that event, while raising functionalities for booking
and rating a sports’ facility or listing facilities and
bookings, reducing notifications for any type of user,
and eliminating features such as being a closed plat-
form, where users must pay for accessing the plat-
form, or paying for non-premium services.
In this section we model the Time2Play platform us-
ing UML. Figure 3 presents the Use Cases diagram
for Time2Play. There, four user profiles are mod-
eled as actors, namely Owner (owner of sports facili-
ties), Player (user that looks for facilities to book), IT
Admin (platform administrator), and Unlogged User
(anonymous user that did not log into the system). Be-
sides these, three external APIs or servers are also
modeled as actors, as prescribed by UML, namely
a geocoding API, a weather API and a mail server.
The use cases modeled in the diagram represent the
pieces of functionality that the Time2Play applica-
tion provides to each user profile. Each use case is
further specified in (Caldas, 2019), identifying its in-
volved actors, actors’ goals, use case pre- and post-
conditions, the normal course of events during the in-
teraction between actor and system, etc..
Domain entity models are central artifacts on the
domain analysis and design of any software solution.
This model presents a graphical representation that
characterizes each entity class and the way they’re
related to each another, in order to meet the defined
requirements (see Figure 4).
In this model we can devise three distinct user
types: administrators, players and the space owners.
The space owner owns a sports facility. The player
searches for and books a sports facility, and may in-
vite other players, registered or not in the platform. A
sports facility has some equipment to lend. An equip-
ment can be used on several bookings and a booking
can use several equipment. An invitation respects to a
booking. Also, a user will belong to a given location
(Location table) and country (Country table).
Each booking will be related to a given sport facil-
ity and a given sport modality, on a given location and
country. The availability of a sport facility will be de-
fined based on an associated schedule. Each booking
can contain some equipment, associated to a sports
facility, which may be booked together with it.
Related with each sports facility, there’s also the
payment types accepted and an image gallery.
The host of a given booking (player that created
the booking) will be able to invite other users to attend
to the event created. There are three distinct statuses
available for the invite process that are ‘No answer’,
Accepted’ and ‘Declined’. All accepted invitations
are considered Registered for the event.
Every registered user will be able to rate a sports
facility where they already attended to a given sport
event. Every time a sports facility is rated, an arith-
metic average is calculated, and the result is rendered
every time that the sports facility is returned on a
search. If the sports facility hasn’t been rated yet, a
message will be displayed to the user informing that
“No evaluation is available” (see (Caldas, 2019)).
In this subsection we explore and demonstrate two of
the most representative UCs scenarios, and how these
are accomplished in the developed application.
When accessing the Time2Play application, a user
sees a first page (landing page), which is not authen-
tication protected. This means that any unlogged or
unregistered user has access to this page and is able
to search for all the available sports facilities for a
given sport modality, location and date. Figure 5
shows the landing page, which also corresponds to
UC.04 (Search facility), where a sport’s facility may
be searched. Any unlogged user will be able to search
for a sport facility to practice a sport modality on
a given location and date (UC.04: Search facility).
However, the booking and invite functionalities will
be only available after successfully logged as a Player.
The “New Booking” page displays all the results
retrieved by the query along with the information re-
lated to each sport facility that matches the search cri-
teria, and renders some data related with the weather
forecasts matching the location and date selected. The
“Book now” button, on each result, will redirect the
user to the New Booking: Confirmation web page,
where some details can be added.
Here, we have showed how two UCs scenarios
are accomplished in the developed application. For a
complete set of scenarios, please see (Caldas, 2019).
Time2Play - Multi-sided Platform for Sports Facilities: A Disruptive Digital Platform
Figure 4: Conceptual Domain Model for Time2Play Platform.
Figure 5: Search Facility Page (Landing Page).
Businesses are changing fast on the global landscape,
and innovative business models are transforming the
economy. Multi-sided networked markets are a result
of these innovative processes. Interactive ecosystems
are being created enabling direct interactions between
two or more affiliates, empowering network effects
where value co-creation and exchange is a key source
to the network where they belong to. Establishing a
valuable ecosystem around the network can help to
sustain and stay relevant on the long term. Network
effects are one of the most powerful key strategic as-
ICEIS 2020 - 22nd International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
sets that can be created by technology innovation.
This paper reports the conceptualization of a
multi-sided platform for sports’ facilities. It started
by contextualizing multi-sided platforms as disrupt-
ing businesses, enabled by digital technologies, and
by identifying the sports’ facilities booking market
segment as an opportunity to be developed and inves-
tigated through a multi-sided platform, since there’s
no worldwide known and referenced web-based plat-
form on the sports facilities booking sector. The main
goal of the reported project was the conceptualization
and building of an innovative multi-sided platform
that, we hope, will become a reference on the booking
of the sports facilities sector, bringing together sports
facilities’ owners and players.
The exponential growth of mobile devices will
drive us to consider, on a further stage, the develop-
ment of a mobile application.
We consider as well, as further development,
the creation of a tournament management system
within the Time2Play platform, covering several
sports modalities. This point will be a valuable as-
set to our core platform, as a Premium service, for
providing, on a single platform, as much relevant ser-
vices as possible, related with the practice of sports.
This publication is based on the MSc research work
of the first author (Caldas, 2019).
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Time2Play - Multi-sided Platform for Sports Facilities: A Disruptive Digital Platform