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Anmar Kamalaldin
Anmar Kamalaldin. Photo: Petra Älvstrand View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Both cooperation and competition are necessary in a digital environment

Published: 29 September 2021

There is a need for each actor within an innovation ecosystem to configure its strategy in it. This can be done by identifying your role in the ecosystem, whether you are a leader or a follower, and your approach in balancing cooperation and competition. Your strategy may change from an ecosystem to another, and may also change over time.

The contemporary digital environment provides entrepreneurs with a multitude of opportunities. However, these opportunities are not yet fully exploited. A new dissertation from Luleå University of Technology, investigates how companies need to both cooperate and compete to create value in a digitalized innovation ecosystem.

The technology of today is more connected and smarter than ever. For example, you have machines communicating with each other, sharing and analyzing big data, and autonomous equipment enabling us to remove workers from dangerous environments.

There is a growing consciousness among manufacturing companies that digitalization give rise to new demands and opportunities on the market; to different themselves from competitors, they must make a move, from just providing equipment to other enterprises, to also offer services – a process called digital servitization. 

Sustainable circular business models

For example, manufacturers can provide other businesses with smart machinery that uses data analytics which can predict when the machinery needs to be repaired before it breaks down, thus enhancing production efficiency and cutting costs. In other words, the equipment provider sells a package containing the equipment and a service in the form of preventive maintenance based on predictive big data.  The digital servitization process is also pressed on by the need for sustainable circular business models which demand that the manufacturer takes responsibility for the product throughout its lifetime.

As an industrial customer you need to find providers specialized in different areas and make them work together to develop new digital services. A major issue is that, to develop such services, these providers need to share valuable data with each other, despite being competitors.

– As a provider you need to simultaneously cooperate and compete with other providers in an innovation ecosystem, says Anmar Kamalaldin, the author of the dissertation.

Four-field model for ecosystem strategies

Based on semi structured interviews and workshops with over 100 key informants in about 40 different companies, Anmar Kamalaldin has developed his dissertation, which includes a four-field model for ecosystem strategies.

The dissertation also contains a model for which activities the actors in a provider – customer relationship need to focus on in a certain phase of their cooperation to achieve maximum value from the digital servitization.

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