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Tangible Ecosystem Design: Architecting Digital Ecosystems for Disruptive Services

May 2019 Presentation
Matthias Naab (Fraunhofer IESE)

This presentation introduces the Tangible Ecosystem Design method, which we developed to support building disruptive digital services with disruptive business models.


Software Engineering Institute




The epoch of the platform economy has arrived. Companies face the question of how to build up disruptive digital services with disruptive business models and establish a digital ecosystem. This is a challenge requiring a strong interplay of business and technical experts. There is a clear lack of methodological and documentation support to master the complexity of many cross-company relationships like flows of exchanged assets, data flows, money flows, or legal contracts. Reasoning, designing, and documenting the user experience and the architecture of such digital ecosystems needs an end-to-end perspective on the resulting digital ecosystem and a strongly integrated approach of user experience design and architecture design.

In this talk, we introduce the "Tangible Ecosystem Design" method, which we developed after experiencing the pain described above in several projects. Its main aspects are tangible modeling elements based on toy figures and toy vehicles and a strong guidance through certain canvases to build on. The talk reports on the experiences from supporting numerous industrial customers with the method in designing their digital services and discusses how the architect’s role broadens in the platform economy.