Actors in the emerging internet of things ecosystems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Seppo Leminen
  • Mervi Rajahonka
  • Mika Westerlund

Research units

  • Laurea University of Applied Sciences
  • Carleton University
  • Aalto University


This study investigates actors in the ecosystems of the Internet of Things (IoT). Previous research suggests that unstructured ecosystems make one of the greatest challenges for creating business models for the IoT. The present study concludes four contributions. First, the study reviews literature to develop a framework for role mechanisms in ecosystems and applies the framework to analyse data from fifteen interviews in six cases. Second, it identifies four diverse actor roles in IoT ecosystems: butterfly, ant and greenfly, spider, and the swarm of bees. Third, the study shows how actors take and make different roles in four emerging IoT ecosystems; product-, company-, industry-, and peer to peer ecosystems, which are structured in accordance with the identified actors' role behavior. Fourth, it suggests a new role pattern, role replication, where companies replicate their value designs and networks to other contexts.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-75
Number of pages19
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Actor, Business model, Ecosystem, Industrial internet, Internet of things, Role, Role behavior, Role mechanism

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