Smart Ecosystems – Digital Ecosystems for a Shared Future

Complete integration of all systems into Digital Ecosystems

The future vision of a “Digital Society 2.0” defines Digital Ecosystems as follows:  

In the future, all business, private, and social activities and services will be supported by software-based systems in an integrated manner and without changes in medium. Additional, completely new synergies can be created through the integration of widely different applications.


The trend that can be observed across almost all domains goes towards complete integration of all systems into Digital Ecosystems, which, driven by a common goal, offer customer-specific solutions across companies. These “Smart Ecosystems” resp. Digital Ecosystems break up former isolated solutions for the control of business processes and technical processes and allow them to converge in an integrated overall solution.

What benefits can companies derive from Digital Ecosystems?

If companies are well positioned for the challenges of Smart Ecosystems, they will be able to attain various advantages on the market. With new products and business models, they will conquer new markets and be perceived as innovative companies in the market. They will secure their shares in the existing market. They will be able to meet new players in the existing market, who may want to break into their own target market from other industries, in a well-planned manner. The prerequisite for all this is that companies adapt their existing products as well as their development methods to the realities of Digital Ecosystems.

Success Stories - Platform Economy & Digital Ecosystems


Automotive and Transportation Systems

Caruso Dataplace

Digital Ecosystem for data and services in the automotive aftermarket.



Industrie 4.0

MANTIS – collaborative maintenance ecosystems

Unlocking new market potential through predictive maintenance.



Smart Country / Smart Rural Areas

Digital Villages

Digital Ecosystem for smart rural areas.


How do I position myself appropriately for the success of Digital Ecosystems?

In order to position themselves appropriately for these challenges, companies must strengthen themselves in various areas:

“Need for Partnering” - thinking beyond the boundaries of one’s own company

A core element of a successful strategy is to start thinking beyond the boundaries of your own company, to build cross-company business models, and to exploit synergies. The Fraunhofer IESE fitness check, the Fraunhofer Ecosystem Assessment, supports organizations in reviewing their capabilities with regard to Smart Ecosystems and in anchoring corresponding areas of excellence sustainably in the company.

“Need for Creativity & Speed” - generating cross-company ideas and innovations

Another core element of a successful strategy is the ability to continuously generate new, cross-company ideas and innovations and to quickly assess these in terms of their viability and bring them to market. Regarding the use of creativity techniques, it can often be observed that many companies lack the courage to use these systematically. The creative potential of a company’s staff is only used insufficiently in this context. Furthermore, crowdsourcing can be used to tap the wealth of ideas of current and future end users. Creativity is no coincidence and can be guided in a targeted and efficient manner through the use of systematic methods.

But when do ideas have potential? Fraunhofer IESE uses targeted potential analyses, such as the mobility potential analysis, the Big Data potential analysis, or the SES potential analysis, to evaluate the potential for innovative models that can be unlocked for a company.

Regarding the issue of speed, it can often be seen that many companies know how to produce high-quality products, but often lack the ability to implement or evaluate ideas quickly. In addition, a great deal of reluctance is evident when it comes to implementing new concepts such as Cloud and DevOps, which would enable rapid development. Successful companies have both the ability to develop at a revolutionary pace and to run stable and mature long-term development cycles.

Fraunhofer Ecosystem Assessment (FEA) – Have your Smart Ecosystems skills checked by us

What does maturity of development processes mean in the context of Digital Ecosystems? Is it traditional CMMI or is there more to it? In the opinion of Fraunhofer IESE, companies must fundamentally reposition themselves in this regard and demonstrate excellence in areas that are commonly ignored by established maturity models. When is a company mature enough for a Smart Ecosystem? Does it want to drive an ecosystem or participate in it? This basically starts with a sustainable business model and a solid technical basis in terms of the platform used and the infrastructure (technical linchpin). The organization must be capable of building a vision and a strategy that are viable for the business model while being technically sound at the same time, and to roll them out from engineering to operation to governance. A key element is partnering with other organizations, as most value creation will take place across company boundaries. Here, questions arise such as which players are suitable as partners, how to position oneself as a consortium in terms of collaboration and development, and how to efficiently learn from collaboration. Another area are the community and the users of the offered products resp. services: How do I create a community; how do I extend and maintain it over time? In this area, the classic Internet companies such as Google, Amazon, or Facebook appear to be quite a step ahead. And finally, it is also a matter of keeping an eye on competitors, observing their actions and being able to react accordingly.

Fraunhofer IESE: neutral partner for platform economy and Digital Ecosystems

Our three service packages:


What is my role in the ecosystem and how do I get started?

Innovation Lab

In our Rapid Innovation Lab (RIL), we support platform providers in getting their ecosystem started.


How do I develop systems and platforms correctly?

Systems Engineering Solutions

Software architecture is at the center of our Efficient Engineering Solutions.



Where am I and what needs to be improved?

Software Quality Lab

In our 360° Diagnostics Center we assess existing solutions of our customers and demonstrate where improvements are possible.