Unlocking success in digital ecosystems



The true appeal of an ecosystem lies in the extensive reach of its participant base.

What factors contribute to the success of digital ecosystems?

Creating value, incentives and motivation is particularly important in digital ecosystems because they operate differently from traditional business models and rely on multi-sided markets. A prime example of such a market is provided by Airbnb. Here we have Airbnb, the company itself, but there are also those who offer private accommodations, and then, on another side, there are the consumers, the travelers who use these accommodations.

All participants interact on this ecosystem voluntarily; no one is coerced. And that’s why, of course, you have to create incentives to entice as many people or organizations as possible to participate in the ecosystem. The true appeal of an ecosystem lies in the extensive reach of its participant base.

Could legal mandates compel actors to participate?

Mandating certain actors to participate in a digital ecosystem is definitely not a good idea. In scenarios where participation is compulsory, as is the case with other business models, individuals often find ways to participate only superficially or, in a worst-case scenario, disrupt the operation of the digital ecosystem.

Successful digital ecosystems have thrived by providing ample incentives to attract participants willingly. When participants engage of their own accord and see the value in their participation, that’s when the ecosystem truly flourishes.

How can we harmonize the diverse interests of all participants?

While the national health platform primarily serves patients, it also benefits from the involvement of other groups. Of course, conflicts of interest may arise from time to time. That’s why resolving such conflicts among all participant groups is absolutely critical to the holistic design of a digital ecosystem and thus of the national health platform. This ensures that patients’ goals are actually met while safeguarding the interests of other participant groups.

What does a holistic design process entail?

The holistic design of digital ecosystems involves assessing the consequences of every decision made during the design process on all participant groups. This assessment encompasses three viewpoints: the business implications, the technical implications and the legal implications.

Success here depends on ensuring that representatives from all participant groups are involved in the process from the very beginning.  To ensure clear communication with these representatives, we use concrete scenarios, prototypes and real-world examples for illustration purposes. This helps us find the right language in our communication with each target group. The challenge lies in managing the design of the entire system across various levels of abstraction while preserving a comprehensive overview that can be aptly conveyed to all participant groups.



Dr. Marcus Trapp, co-founder of Full Flamingo, an eco-tech startup, aims to leverage the power of the platform economy for the greatest possible impact on sustainability. Before 2022, he held a senior executive position at Fraunhofer IESE, where he played a pivotal role in developing and overseeing the field of “Digital Ecosystems and the Platform Economy.”

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