PACIS 2019 Proceedings


Changing market dynamics and the rising influence of digitalization increase the demand for digital offerings. Companies innovate their business models and pool their competences in ecosystems to manage digital transformation successfully. In contrast to influential global players, small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) face a different starting position. Due to their limited resources and weak integration in networks, their potential cannot be fully exploited yet. We take an explorative, qualitative research approach to investigate how roles in ecosystems and digitalization approaches of SMEs are related. The findings are based on eleven in-depth interviews with experts. The analysis suggests that the SMEs’ roles in ecosystems set the frame for digitalization approaches. Depending on the role, different stages of digitalization are accessible and higher stages can be reached by strategic development in the ecosystem. The work contributes to the understanding of the construct “ecosystems” and its applicability in the context of SMEs’ and their digitalization.