Relationship Building in IoT Platform Models

the Case of the Danfoss Group

  • Svend Hollensen University of Southern Denmark
  • Pernille
  • Anna Marie


Purpose: This paper investigates the implications for a manufacturer’s relationship building towards B2B customers and suppliers as a consequence of Internet-of-Things (IoT) platform models.

Design/methodology/approach: Explorative single case study with embedded sub-cases. Qualitative research approach. Semi-structured interviews.

Findings: The paper identifies two ways of doing relationship building when it comes to IoT platform models. Relationship building can take place through a Classic Relationship IoT platform model (characterized by low complexity) or a New Relationship IoT platform model (characterized by high complexity). In both models, the manufacturer aims for high stickiness towards the customers. In the New Relationship model, however, low stickiness towards suppliers is aimed for in order to enable the manufacturer to orchestrate the stakeholder constellation dynamically. In addition, a driver for the low stickiness aim towards suppliers can be found in a motive to outsource risks to suppliers in IoT markets characterized by high degrees of turbulence and growth.

Research limitations/implications: The study points to the fact that a manufacturer should consider how the new technology IoT gives opportunities for different ways of relating to stakeholders, e.g. customers and suppliers, in the business model.

Originality/value: Based on primary data collection the research shows how strategic relationship building can help a manufacturer create value with customers and suppliers within IoT platform models. The paper expands the business model literature by investigating consequences of a new technology, i.e. IoT.

Keywords: IoT, IoT platform model; platform stickiness; manufacturer; relationship building, business models.

Article Classification: Research paper

Author Biographies


Dr. Pernille Eskerod is Ph.D. and Professor of Management and Organizational Behavior at Webster Vienna Private University. Her research interests are within Stakeholder Engagement, Project Management, Change Management, Sustainability and Strategic Management. She has published several articles within the leading journals of her main field, i.e. International Journal of Project Management and Project Management Journal. Pernille has acted as journal guest editor, published more books, journal articles and book chapters on Project Stakeholder Management. Furthermore, she has attracted funding from competitive applications for international research projects. In 2020, she conducts research on Engagement of Community Stakeholders in Infrastructure Projects, Stakeholder Engagement in Rural Tourism in Austria and Serbia, Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Sustainability within the Hotel Industry, and Managerial Implications of IoT.

Anna Marie

Dr. Anna Marie Dyhr Ulrich is Ph.D. and Associate Professor of B2B Marketing at the Department of Entrepreneurship and Relationship Management at the University of Southern Denmark (Sønderborg). Her research interests are within B2B Marketing, International Marketing, Globalization, IOT and Relationship Marketing. Anna Marie has published articles within these topics in well-recognized international journals and books. She has a long national and international teaching and research experience. She has practical experience from jobs as project manager, owner of her own consultancy business and as senior consultant in the international department of the Confederation of the Danish Industry, Copenhagen.