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Foresight event explores next generation B2B platforms

18 Jan 2024

Foresight event explores next generation B2B platforms

On 14 December, PPMI, in collaboration with TNO and the European Commission, PPMI organized the event 'NextGen Online Platforms: Foresight Session on B2B Supply Chains' in Brussels, Belgium. The event brought policy makers, prominent experts, and practitioners, fostering discussions on the challenges and opportunities influencing the future evolution of B2B supply chains.

What are B2B industrial platforms?

Industrial B2B platforms are foundational technological architectures and data upon which a focal firm organises a diverse set of interdependent actors, activities, and interfaces to create, deliver, and capture value. These platforms reconfigure existing linear industrial supply chains into networks in which platforms aggregate and share data across companies, systems and products. As a result, the focus of supply chains shifts to providing improved response capacity to customer demand.

B2B industrial platforms share several key elements:

Industrial digital platforms perform two main roles in industrial supply chains: market intermediation or technological enablement.

Why is the future of B2B supply chains important?

B2B industrial digital platforms promise to realise large economic value and facilitate the broader digital transformation of industry:

  • Increase the flexibility and resilience of supply chains
  • Optimise production costs
  • Increase productivity
  • Open up new value-creation avenues
  • Stimulate novel data-driven business models
  • Facilitate the development of innovative products and services

According to the World Economic Forum estimate, B2B platforms could unlock $10 trillion in value across sectors by 2025.

The proliferation of industrial B2B industrial digital platforms poses risks, particularly in relation to the economic power concentration in the industrial supply chains.

Foresight session approach

During the session, participants were tasked with identifying the key risks and opportunities associated with virtual worlds in 2035. To do so, experts were invited to use ‘futures’, a narrative foresight tool describing possible worlds in 2035. The four virtual worlds futures used during the session were:

  • Winner Takes It All: a future characterised by a high degree of geopolitical tensions and a low risk of cybercrimes
  • Island Fortress: a future characterised by a high degree of geopolitical tensions and a high cybercrime threat
  • Laissez-faire: a future characterised by a low degree of geopolitical tensions and a low risk of cybercrimes
  • Online Village: a future characterised by a low degree of geopolitical tensions and a high cybercrime threat

Participants worked in groups to identify and prioritise the most important challenges and opportunities for the EU in each future using macro and micro perspectives. When analysing the macro perspective, each group mapped challenges and opportunities from the perspective of policy makers.

Then, the identified challenges and opportunities were validated through exploring the perspectives of personas. Personas are illustrative descriptions of imaginary people and organisations commonly used in design thinking and foresight. Personas allow to explore the futures from many different perspectives and seek commonalities and differences between stakeholders. The result of the micro analysis was then used to validate and fine-tune the output of the macro-level analysis done previously.

Foresight session results

The outcome of the foresight session was a set of challenges and opportunities linked to each of the futures explored. Some cross-cutting themes included:

  • The impact of B2B industrial platforms on the innovation environment
  • The transformative effects B2B industrial platforms could have on market dynamics, competition and SMEs
  • Implications for the role of the EU and government intervention more broadly

The highest priority risks and challenges identified in each future are summarised below.

Learn more about the study

The event was part of a study carried out by PPMI and TNO for the European Commission, which examines the development of online platforms and their impact on European society and economy. You can find out more about the study here.

Throughout the study, the team is engaging a wide range of stakeholders in co-creation and co-assessment exercises to uncover different future scenarios and their implications. This event is part of a series of participatory sessions with different stakeholders, including policy makers, industry, academia and youth.

The results of this foresight session will feed into a paper on the future of B2B industrial platforms to be published in 2024. It will be one of ten foresight papers developed during the study.

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