Dagstuhl seminar: Software Business, Platforms, and Ecosystems: Fundamentals of Software Production Research


Software producing organizations (SPOs) face challenges every day. Whether they are open source consortia or commercial software product companies, they all face the challenges of changing demands, rapidly evolving technology, and a dynamic ecosystem in which their products and services need to operate. SPOs need to rethink their operating models and benefit from current and future trends. E.g. agile software development and DevOps allow them to respond swiftly to changes in their environment, embracing uncertainty. Particularly in conjunction with machine learning and artificial intelligence, SPOs can generate strategic competitive advantages. Particularly companies with a long history in a given domain, such as SAP and Volkswagen, seem to be too comfortable with their status quo. Meanwhile, smaller companies drive innovation on many fronts. Examples are Provenance that benefits from blockchain technology to revolutionize trust in goods, or Tesla and Local Motors that push autonomous cars into consumer markets.

The challenge to make these organizations successful is multi-disciplinary. First, there exist technology challenges, such as eliciting and prioritizing requirements, dealing with platforms and technology standards, and operating in complex technology landscapes that constrain and enable their technology. Secondly, there exist adoption challenges: organizations need to find ways to convince their target users to adopt their technologies and to coordinate evolving technologies to provide the most valuable end-user experience. Thirdly, there exist business model challenges, where these organizations must find ways to maximize profit from their innovations and technologies. Because of the pervasiveness of software, the challenges are observed everywhere in the economy, whether it is logistics, online marketing, or e-health. Furthermore, they are applicable to organizations in every stage of development, whether it is a software startup or a software giant that has influenced the market consistently for decades.

Hence, this Dagstuhl Seminar invited thought leaders from academia and industry to share their knowledge and experiences. Participants were asked to share a short position statement of max 300 words and participate in the development of a groundbreaking research agenda. These efforts aimed to increase visibility and impact of software production research and to set a course for the next decades. In addition, the seminar helped bringing together scholars and industry practitioners from different communities, such as product management, technology management, information systems, software engineering, and human-computer interaction in order to sharpen and define the joint community of Software-intensive Business (see Section 4.3.1).

A central outcome of the seminar was the agreement to use the term Software-intensive Business in order to describe the joint community with members of great diversity. Furthermore, the seminar focused on

  • defining core concepts and identifying a roadmap
  • Software-intensive Business and technology artifacts
  • research needs in continuous experimentation & innovation
  • lifecycle and research of software ecosystems
  • research data for Software-intensive Businesses

As a major result from the seminar, the following achievements have been identified:

  1. research a clear agenda for the field of Software-intensive Business research
  2. carving out trends and research challenges in further depth
  3. forming groups for continuous collaborations on different elements of the research agenda
  4. organize bi-weekly meetings on-line for community building and research sharing.


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