Research Proposal: How different SECOs influence its participants

Currently, Slinger gives a seminar on Software Ecosystems. During this seminar, we are performing a research project on Software Ecosystems. In this blog post, Andrei Idu and I want to share our (proposed) research topic (and method). Please let us know what you think!

Research proposal

For software companies it is of strategic importance to understand their own Software Ecosystem (SECO) (Berk, Jansen & Luinenburg, 2010). This applies to start-up companies as well. Being a software start-up choosing which ecosystem to join can have a big influence in the success of the start-up company. For example, would Rovio, the developer of the immensely popular Angry Birds game, have become just as successful if it joined a different ecosystem? We think that it is very important to be aware of the circumstances and conditions of an ecosystem, and to determine what the risk factors are in different SECOs. This results in the following research questions:

What are the characteristics that a start-up product software company should consider when joining a software ecosystem? How do these characteristics influence participants of different software ecosystems?

Proposed Research method

In order to answer the research question a literature research and documentation study will be performed. Based on existing literature about software ecosystems, market-related characteristics that influence participants in a SECO will be identified. Examples of such characteristics are: size of the market that the SECO addresses, entry barriers, quality requirements or information sharing degree.

The reason for choosing market-related characteristics is the nature of the research question. It implies an approach from the outside in to decision making, first analyzing the environment and then basing decisions on that analysis.

When we have formulated the market-related characteristics, we will conduct several case studies for different ecosystems. These case studies will be based on documentation study. These case studies will help to categorize the ecosystems based on characteristics.

Ecosystems that are to be analyzed include: iPhone, Android and Microsoft .Net. These ecosystems have been chosen because they each have a relatively strong keystone player that controls the platform, but these ecosystems differ in the way the keystone influences the ecosystem in terms of policies and platform openness. Information about the ecosystems will be gathered from websites, license agreements, press releases, market data and other publications.

Finally, we will analyze the results and draw some conclusion on how differences in ecosystems regarding market characteristics influences participants in the ecosystem. We will validate these results will by performing expert-interviews with a participant of each ecosystem. With these results, we hope to provide companies with a set of guidelines to be able to choose the best SECO for their specific needs and situation.

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About T. van de Zande
Master student Business Informatics

8 Responses to Research Proposal: How different SECOs influence its participants

  1. We find the research proposal interesting and significant for both the scientific domain of Software Ecosystems and its practical application in the business. However, we have a number of suggestions.
    First, we suggest the authors to change Microsoft.Net Ecosystem with Windows Phone Ecosystem. Having in mind that the other case studies are focused on mobile Ecosystems, Microsoft.Net Ecosystemis too broad. We think that it is a better approach to compare similar Ecosystems and that will give more appropriate data, which will result in more accurate final guidelines.
    Second, regarding the research question, we suggest that “characteristics” should be further specified. As you state below, you are focusing on market-related characteristics. Maybe this should be included in the research question.
    Third, it also might be a good idea to be more specific on the way the results are going to be analyzed – statistically, semantically, etc.

    This review is performed by the Networkers.

  2. ericververs says:

    Peer review research proposal Communities
    Authors research proposal                                        : A. Idu & T. van de Zande (Communities)
    Review team                                                                 : E. Ververs & R. van Bommel (Dataminers)
    Review:
    Research proposal

    You use different terms for the same term in the proposal, i.e., start-up companies & software start-up. These two terms have different meanings, but they are used as synonyms here. I suggest using the same term, in order to avoid misinterpretations.
    What kind of software start-up are we talking about?

    Developer, reseller, software maintenance etc.?
    Open source, COTS or both?

    What type of ecosystems are you targeting? [1]

    Smartphone ecosystems;
    Programming language ecosystems;
    Open source ecosystems;
    ….

    In your problem statement you made some assumptions without references,  i.e.:

    This applies to start-up companies as well.
    Being a software start-up choosing which ecosystem to join can have a big influence in the success of the start-up company.
    We think that it is very important to be aware of the circumstances and conditions of an ecosystem, and to determine what the risk factors are in different SECOs.

    In the example of the problem statement could have been more specific. The assumption that everyone knows that Rovio entered portable device ecosystems may be one that should not  be made. Because the start-up company that will read your paper, might not be aware of this. Unfortunately, you don’t provide a specific “different ecosystem”. An example could be used to clarify previous statements.

    Research questions
    Two research questions were formed. As I interpret it, both questions are equally important. But, wouldn’t it be better to form one main research question with multiple sub-questions?
    The first question (What are the characteristics that a start-up product software company should consider when joining a software ecosystem?) is a little vague and non-specific. If I interpret the question right, I suggest using the following sentence: What characteristics should a start-up product software company consider when deciding to enter a certain software ecosystem?
    I think the second question (How do these characteristics influence participants of different software ecosystems?) is not clear. How can characteristics of a certain ecosystem influence anything other than its own ecosystem? I think you used the wrong term for “characteristics” here, or my perception of what characteristics might be off.
    Proposed research method

    Here it seems that you only research one question. However, in the previous chapter two questions were formed.
    The expended the examples of what characteristics are in the previous chapter.
    In line 3 in the last paragraph the word “will” should be deleted.
    The word participant of an ecosystem is multi interpretable. Is an participant a developer, end-user or company.

    Conclusion
    I think you have an interesting topic to research. I have found a paper that has some similarities with the topic you chose. Bala et. al. [2] already wrote a paper on ecosystems, and how managers make decisions when making choices on this topic. I especially like your research method and the rationale behind why you chose it. Although, I’m not sure if your research fully covers the SECO research area of your topic, because you focus more on the business side (decision making), rather than the IS/IT side.
    I suggest reformulating the research questions so they are clearer and more specific. I gave some tips on how you can do this.
    Keep up the good work, and good luck on writing your paper!

    References

    Huang, P., Ceccagnoli, M., Forman, C., & Wu, D. (2009). When Do ISVs Join a Platform Ecosystem? Evidence from the Enterprise Software Industry, ICIS 2009 Proceedings. Paper 161
    Bala. I., Chi-Hyon, L., & Venkatraman, N. (2006). Managing in a “Small World Ecosystem”: Some Lessons from the Software Sector. Retrieved from: http://www.softwareecosystems.com/Software_ecosystems_paper_final.pdf

  3. ericververs says:

    Peer review research proposal Communities
    Authors research proposal : A. Idu & T. van de Zande (Communities)
    Review team : E. Ververs & R. van Bommel (Dataminers)

    Review:
    Research proposal
    • You use different terms for the same term in the proposal, i.e., start-up companies & software start-up. These two terms have different meanings, but they are used as synonyms here. I suggest using the same term, in order to avoid misinterpretations.
    • What kind of software start-up are we talking about?
    o Developer, reseller, software maintenance etc.?
    o Open source, COTS or both?
    • What type of ecosystems are you targeting? [1]
    o Smartphone ecosystems;
    o Programming language ecosystems;
    o Open source ecosystems;
    o ….
    • In your problem statement you made some assumptions without references, i.e.:
    o This applies to start-up companies as well.
    o Being a software start-up choosing which ecosystem to join can have a big influence in the success of the start-up company.
    o We think that it is very important to be aware of the circumstances and conditions of an ecosystem, and to determine what the risk factors are in different SECOs.
    • In the example of the problem statement could have been more specific. The assumption that everyone knows that Rovio entered portable device ecosystems may be one that should not be made. Because the start-up company that will read your paper, might not be aware of this. Unfortunately, you don’t provide a specific “different ecosystem”. An example could be used to clarify previous statements.

    Research questions
    Two research questions were formed. As I interpret it, both questions are equally important. But, wouldn’t it be better to form one main research question with multiple sub-questions?

    The first question (What are the characteristics that a start-up product software company should consider when joining a software ecosystem?) is a little vague and non-specific. If I interpret the question right, I suggest using the following sentence: What characteristics should a start-up product software company consider when deciding to enter a certain software ecosystem?

    I think the second question (How do these characteristics influence participants of different software ecosystems?) is not clear. How can characteristics of a certain ecosystem influence anything other than its own ecosystem? I think you used the wrong term for “characteristics” here, or my perception of what characteristics might be off.

    Proposed research method
    • Here it seems that you only research one question. However, in the previous chapter two questions were formed.
    • The expended the examples of what characteristics are in the previous chapter.
    • In line 3 in the last paragraph the word “will” should be deleted.
    • The word participant of an ecosystem is multi interpretable. Is an participant a developer, end-user or company.

    Conclusion
    I think you have an interesting topic to research. I have found a paper that has some similarities with the topic you chose. Bala et. al. [2] already wrote a paper on ecosystems, and how managers make decisions when making choices on this topic. I especially like your research method and the rationale behind why you chose it. Although, I’m not sure if your research fully covers the SECO research area of your topic, because you focus more on the business side (decision making), rather than the IS/IT side.

    I suggest reformulating the research questions so they are clearer and more specific. I gave some tips on how you can do this.

    Keep up the good work, and good luck on writing your paper!

    References
    1. Huang, P., Ceccagnoli, M., Forman, C., & Wu, D. (2009). When Do ISVs Join a Platform Ecosystem? Evidence from the Enterprise Software Industry, ICIS 2009 Proceedings. Paper 161
    2. Bala. I., Chi-Hyon, L., & Venkatraman, N. (2006). Managing in a “Small World Ecosystem”: Some Lessons from the Software Sector. Retrieved from: http://www.softwareecosystems.com/Software_ecosystems_paper_final.pdf

  4. i think influence on the participants is mainly based on the transparent or hidden goals of the owner of the software ecosystem. in the end, the owner of the ecosystem tries to influence the participants to e.g. adopt new products, build complements, sell products, … more about goals in my book

    good luck with your research

    • I am Cuban, I could not get his book: Business Models, Ecosystems and Partnerships in the Software Industry on the subject I want to know why care about business models, partnerships, and ecosystems?, I’m researching software ecosystem and business models, his book is ideal but I am not available, please ask to help me with an article on this topic. Greetings.

  5. Vincent Joshua says:

    I am researching on different software ecosystems, please kind you link me to where i can get more information/materials

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