The developing role of telecommunication firms from technology enablers to strategic players in the smart factory

  • Paola Pisano
  • Marco Pironti
  • Lia Tirabeni
  • Davide Sola
  • Giovanni Scarso Borioli
Keywords: smart factory, Telcos, business models, innovation


Purpose of the paper: The aim of this research is to investigate the role of telecommunication firms as technology partners in smart factory deployment and the potential impact on their own business model.

Methodology: We adopted a qualitative methodology based on multiple-case study analysis with the purpose of theory-building.

Results: i) Identification of three business model trajectories that are triggered by smart factory deployment both for recipient firms and for technology enabling firms; (ii) proposition of a directional framework that enables both smart factory recipient firms and technology partners to understand their options both in terms of Smart factory deployment and business model options and of the interconnections between them.

Research limitations: Selected cases have been used according to the state of development of the project. A larger number of cases, as well as a more in depth analysis, would increase confidence in the findings.

Practical implications: Identification of unexplored opportunities in the new, smart factory deployment paradigm that could transform the business model of the recipient firm as well as the role of the technology partners.

Originality of the paper: We identify the central role of the technology partners focusing on Telecommunication companies, who can enable the evolution of the business model transformation of recipient firms as well as its own. Moreover, the identification of the ownership and accessibility of data produced by the Smart factory is considered the main barrier for technology partners to make their business model evolve beyond business model trajectories.


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