Bridging the Gap at Ecosystem Level: Enhancing Business Model Innovation in Internet of Things-Enabled Platform Ecosystems

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles


Digital transformation is challenging businesses and societies to offer innovative services to customers and to increase profitability through the development of new business models. The Internet of Things (IoT) has been identified as a potent enabler for novel services and businesses. However, despite the potential benefits, successful implementation of IoT-enabled platform ecosystems remains scarce. Research on IoT has mainly focused on technological advancements, while the importance of business model innovation has been largely overlooked. The research in the field of IoT has predominantly focused on technological advancements, disregarding the critical aspect of business model innovation. However, successful implementation of technology largely relies on a well-defined business model that delivers outstanding value propositions.

Social Exchange Theory (SET) is a theoretical framework that is pertinent in the context of IoT-enabled platform ecosystems. According to SET, actors in value exchange should find the distribution of value equitable vis-à-vis the effort invested in value creation. Therefore, in the present research, SET is adopted as a conceptual framework to explore how ecosystem-level business model innovation (BMI) in IoT-enabled platform ecosystems could be enhanced to increase actor retention, and to internalize network externalities to increase the positive network effects during times of digital transformation.

The contribution of this research extends beyond the theoretical development of value exchange in the context of IoT-enabled platform ecosystems. This research identifies two different views of social value and recognizes that in the ecosystem context, conditional value is often overlooked in theoretical discussion and neglected by practitioners.

This research also contributes to BMI theories in the IoT-enabled platform ecosystem context by identifying, in an interdisciplinary manner, the required building blocks, i.e., characteristics of a platform ecosystem BMI, and IoT. Further, a model for BMI is created, which combines two novel frameworks, namely, the Ecosystem Value Balance and the Platform Canvas. This provides ecosystem actors with valuable insights to co-create a joint value proposition and enable positive network effects by utilizing the model iteratively as a strategic tool.

In addition, this research advances research methodologies by presenting a novel approach to clarifying concepts through literature reviews. The method involves a combination of snowballing, Porter stemming, and thematic analysis, which enables a comprehensive and structured synthesis of relevant literature and promotes a more nuanced and deeper understanding of the research topic. This approach can be applied in other research fields, too, to achieve more rigorous and accurate literature reviews.

Although this research opens up avenues for researching value proposition evaluation in IoT-enabled ecosystems, more attention to the business opportunities that can be realized is necessary. The proposed model needs validation with more and longer-term cases, and a cross-industry study could explore potential similarities and differences in the challenges and opportunities of IoT platform ecosystems. Moreover, further research is required to validate the proposed model, explore potential similarities and differences in IoT platform ecosystems, and investigate the role of emerging technologies in shaping the value proposition and value creation processes. Further, the research emphasizes the need for cultural change in companies operating in ecosystems, as traditionally companies have focused on maximizing their profits instead of maximizing the overall value for the whole ecosystem.

In conclusion, this research contributes to the theory and practice of business model innovation in IoT-enabled platform ecosystems by offering a BMI model which relies on value balance in ecosystem contexts and proposes a model for IoT platform ecosystem actors to co-create joint value propositions. It also clarifies related concepts and offers a novel approach to literature reviews. This research can help businesses and societies to understand the importance of business model innovation and to create a more sustainable and profitable ecosystem.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTampere
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-03-3074-3
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (articles)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
ISSN (Print)2489-9860
ISSN (Electronic)2490-0028


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