How sustainable is smart farming? The contribution of service platforms to innovate Italian agribusinesses


  • Maria Vincenza Ciasullo
  • Marco Savastano
  • Alexander Douglas
  • Miriana Ferrara
  • Simone Fiorentino



digital servitization; service platform; precision agriculture systems; winery organizations; sustainable ecosystem; smart farming


Framing of the research. The agrifood industry needs to embrace digitalization by strategically innovating toward ecological transition and sustainable growth. A conceptual framework, empirically informed, is proposed, and a mixed-methods approach in the Italian wineries’ context is adopted.
Purpose of the paper. This paper aims to analyze how the sustainability of agribusinesses, especially wine producers, could be improved by implementing precision agricultural systems in place of conventional ones with the support of a digital service provider.
Methodology. A sequential mixed methods approach based on both secondary and primary data was conducted. The quantitative analysis focused on a cost-benefit comparison between conventional versus 4.0 wineries. The qualitative analysis was performed through a multiple case study, focusing on the interplay between the service provider and the wineries. Ten interviews were conducted with both actors.
Results. The results contribute to the literature by enriching the conceptual framework proposed and updated with empirical evidence. It describes dimensions and relationships that enable the actors involved in reaching higher sustainability outcomes at the firm and network levels.
Research limitations. The limited investigated sample, based on a low number of interviews, does not allow a consistent generalization of the results.
Managerial implications. Evidence from the case studies can inform both practitioners and policymakers about best practices and process innovation activities, which can increase shared value creation in the agrifood ecosystem.
Originality of the paper. This is one of the first studies to take into consideration a relevant topic, still poorly investigated, by deepening how a digital service provider supports the wineries’ innovation toward sustainable outcomes.


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