Moving towards a digital ecosystem

Blog PhD candidate Bart van der Linden

On February 15, the second digital ecosystem roundtable took place at Nyenrode Business Universiteit, in partnership with T-Systems Netherlands. The topic was about digital entrants versus digital natives and how both deal with digital ecosystems with many stakeholders. As a digital entrant, Paul van der Linden from Heineken talked about how Heineken corporate IT is moving towards partnerships with their service providers. Digital native Daniel Gebler from Picnic talked about Picnic’s platform and how their ecosystem is evolving.

Round Table Digital Ecosystems

During the discussion, several different types of ecosystems were discussed and because of the complexity of the term, it is important to have a clear definition in place of digital ecosystems. Our first attempt of the definition of digital ecosystem is: a community of internal and external stakeholders in conjunction with a digital platform or an ICT-infrastructure, interacting as a system with mutual interdependencies and having a shared fate.

Round Table Digital Ecosystems

Several types of digital ecosystems were also discussed. These are:

  1. A ICT/digital ecosystem that is part of the sourced ICT-infrastructure of an digital entrant (like Heineken), whereby a number of strategic service providers are delivering services in infrastructure domain, application management domain and end-user management domain.
  2. A digital ecosystem that is situated at the front-end of an organisation. An example is the platform that was recently launched by a bank for customer intimacy.
  3. A third digital ecosystem is the core platform that is Picnic’s proposition in combination with all activities of the stakeholders on it (e.g. customers and employees).

Round Table Digital Ecosystems

Rather important factors of a digital ecosystem are:

  • Shared platform or ICT-infrastructure
  • Shared fate
  • Mutual investments in
    • Capabilities,
    • Knowledge and
    • Trust
  • Creating a long-term partnerships

Round Table Digital Ecosystems

What we learned from this roundtable is that many corporates as well as start-ups and scale-ups are trying to embrace the ecosystem concept. However, the adoption of this is very immature. For that reason, Nyenrode and T-Systems will organize more roundtables and will start research studies done by students very soon at two corporates. Focus of these studies is on the maturity level of adoption of the digital ecosystem concept.

Round Table Digital Ecosystems


For presentations of the round table and more information on the cooperation between T Systems and Nyenrode, click here (in Dutch).