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Value Cocreation Tensions in Industrial Internet of Things Projects

Master Thesis with an explorative qualitative Research Approach

Background: The Internet of Things (IoT) has affected how industry firms create and capture value, moving slowly but surely from product-oriented supply chains to service-oriented ecosystems. These ecosystems are often formed around a digital platform—the core technology, like an operating system of your smartphone. Industrial IoT (IIoT) ecosystems involve customers, partners, and third-party firms in interdependent value cocreation processes that constitute IIoT projects. The goal of an IIoT project could be to provide a predictive maintenance service for a customer. This service requires (1) sensors to detect machine status data, (2) connectivity to communicate the data to a central cloud platform, (3) a cloud platform to store and analyze data and integrate other sources, (4) and the final predictive maintenance application with a user interface that supports the decision making of practitioners, i.e. when the machine must be serviced. So far, research in information systems (IS) has focused much on digital consumer platforms, such as Apple’s App Store (Eaton et al. 2015), Mozilla’s Firefox browser ecosystem (Tiwana 2015), or Sony’s PlayStation (Cennamo and Santaló 2019). Here, for example, the openness versus control tension was highlighted. Yet, by looking at more complex IIoT applications or projects, they require more relational governance between the various actors that cocreate the final service (e.g. deliver sensors, connectivity, platform, applications). Therefore, the following question might be interesting to investigate.

Research Question: What tensions emerge in the value cocreation process of IIoT projects and how do the ecosystem actors resolve them?

Research Design: To answer this question, the researcher should first conduct a systematic literature review and research on already known tensions that were studied in “digital platform ecosystems” and with a focus on “IIoT platform ecosystems”. Departing from this knowledge, the researchers may conduct expert interviews with different actors that are needed to provide an IIoT solution, e.g. sensor manufacturers, consultancies, software developers, etc. Ideally, these firms should be affiliated with the same IIoT platform ecosystem, which is oftentimes built by a single firm.

Possible result: Ideally, the researcher identifies a set of relevant tensions that emerge in IIoT projects or focuses on a single tension that has great weight.

Cennamo, C., and Santaló, J. 2019. “Generativity Tension and Value Creation in Platform Ecosystems,” Organization Science (30:3), pp. 617–641.
Eaton, B., Elaluf-Calderwood, S., Sørensen, C., and Yoo, Y. 2015. “Distributed Tuning of Boundary Resources: The Case of Apple’s IOS Service System,” MIS Quarterly (39:1), pp. 217–243.
Tiwana, A. 2015. “Evolutionary Competition in Platform Ecosystems,” Information Systems Research (26:2), pp. 266–281.
Wareham, J., Fox, P. B., and Cano Giner, J. L. 2014. “Technology Ecosystem Governance,” Organization Science (25:4), pp. 1195–1215.

Publiziert von christian.marheine@unisg.ch

Kontakt: Christian Marheine