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Industrial B2B platforms: The race Europe cannot afford to lose

Author: Stolwijk, C.C.M. · Montalvo, C. · Gijsbers, G. · Punter, L.M.
Publisher: TNO
Place: Den Haag
Identifier: 869472
Report number: TNO 2019 R10779


Digital platforms are everywhere today. They have become so prominent that we are talking about the platform economy as a new model of economic governance.2 The most visible platforms are those that dominate the social media, consumer products and services. Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, Amazon, Uber, AirBnB etc. have become household names. These companies have become extremely wealthy and powerful monopolies in a short period of time. Less visible, but not less important than these Business-to-Consumer platforms (B2C) are Business-to Business platforms (B2B) that play an increasingly important role in integrating production (within companies - e.g. digital factories) and between companies, linking organisations along the value chain. This report addresses a number of key issues in relation to B2B platforms in the industrial sector. First, digitalisation of factories and value chains are key developments underlying concepts such as Industry 4.0. Digital platforms play a crucial role in the future of European and Dutch industry. Second, it is important to review and assess developments in Industrial B2B platforms because of changing international trade regimes and more broadly geopolitical developments. Protectionist tendencies are becoming stronger (e.g. the America First policy of the U.S.). Third, an important question is whether the current U.S. dominance in B2C platforms will be extended to Industrial B2B platforms – which would have major implications for Dutch and European industries. To answer these questions this report addresses a number topics related to the types of digital platform for industry and especially Smart Industry, current platform initiatives and state-of -play, problems and issues in the development of platforms for the industrial sector, the role of standards, the role of (data) infrastructures, possible scenarios for platform development - especially in relation to the European industry, and an outlook and options for platforms in the EU industrial sector.