Transformation of German IT Infrastructure Sales Ecosystems during the Course of Digitalisation

KALTENBACH, Ralf Friedhelm (2020). Transformation of German IT Infrastructure Sales Ecosystems during the Course of Digitalisation. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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The businesses of IT infrastructure product and service manufacturers in Germany are exposed to a variety of opportunities and risks. Some of the opportunities they face emerge from the rapid pace of technological development and the resulting business potential in artificial intelligence, big data analytics, internet of things and cloud technologies. These technologies offer their customers a vast amount of opportunities to innovate their business models and design their digital transformation to compete. IT infrastructure vendors can benefit from associated investments. However, these developments also entail certain business risks for vendors, such as those arising from the availability of innovative public cloud offerings, which can replace commoditised IT infrastructure. As a result, IT Infrastructure vendors experience significant changes in customer (purchasing) behaviour, which threatens their business success. Some of these changes are of a disruptive nature and affect both the manufacturers and also their indirect sales partners in the IT infrastructure sales ecosystem. Based on a Grounded Theory Methodology (GTM) research approach, this study has aimed to improve the understanding of these market dynamics and to provide a transformation framework that enables vendors and their partners to adapt to the changes. Data collection was carried out by conducting twenty-four semi-structured interviews with business professionals who reported on their long-term experiences and observations in this regard. The study analysed which relevant influencing factors have to be considered and how the affected sales ecosystems are structurally changing. As the findings of the study indicate, successful IT infrastructure sales ecosystem transformations depend on a variety of influencing factors. From a customer perspective, these factors relate to the necessity of a modified vendor sales differentiation strategy, providing added value to clients during digital business transformation. Corresponding activities build on the prior development of the skills of the vendors' sales teams. Furthermore, the study underlines the relevance of developing and expanding the sales partner landscape to provide customers with a scalable ecosystem with all digitalisation-relevant core competencies during the increasingly demanding sales process. The study also revealed an increased need to particularly take into account individual sales employee needs and concerns during transformation efforts and to promote improved procedural and organisational agility. For each of these aspects, the study presents and discusses a variety of adequate action strategies. Compared to the existing literature, the findings particularly suggest a different way of thinking during transformation that takes into account the relevance of ambidexterity, trust and empowerment of employees and partners to ensure transformation success. As a further contribution to both theory and practice the study provides the so-called “A.C.T.I.V.A.T.E.” model for managing transformational change, which integrates the identified influencing factors and provides concrete strategies to handle them. For this purpose, the framework allows the assessment of the individual maturity level of sales ecosystems and suggests concrete recommendations to develop them further. This approach enables vendors and their partners to exploit and explore both existing and new market opportunities and to mitigate transformation risks to the same extent.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Mcauley, John
Thesis advisor - Jung, Hans H.
Additional Information: Director of studies: Prof. Dr. Michael John McAuley, MBS Prof. Dr. Hans H. Jung
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2020 13:58
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2023 14:55

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