Multiple Case Research on Different Strategies for Players in the Digital Diabetes Ecosytem

Sirin Eissa

Student thesis: Master thesis


Diabetes care is currently undergoing a major transformation. New digital solutions have facilitated the emergence of the so-called ‘closed loop’ trend, which empowers patients to manage diabetes by themselves and have better control on the glucose level in their body. This has enormous implications for innovation and business collaboration in the medical sector. In particular, the quest to deliver optimum value to the patient creates new interdependencies in the ecosystem not least between providers of digital solution products. Meaning that collaboration becomes an integral part of diabetes firms’ business models. The stand-alone strategy is obsolete when the delivery of a product is dependent on other organizations products. Companies have to work in a large network and interact with different players in the business ecosystem. This means that the adaptative capacity of different components of the system, such as software and mobile applications developers and connected device manufacturers, is vital to survive. In this drastically changing landscape, how do these players position themselves in the digital diabetes ecosystem and adapt successfully to ensure their evolution and survival? This is the main question addressed in this thesis. It provides a comparative analysis based on multiple case research, the cases selected to explore and compare strategies and practices of traditional pharmaceutical companies and start-ups operating in the digital diabetes market. While these case studies are not new, the analysis of them to explore the main research question is novel. The case analysis suggest that start-ups are more advance in their strategies towards business ecosystem adaptation. They are born with collaborative and digital business models. The incumbent pharmaceutical companies, on the other hand, are a step behind in this respect. They moved from commodity business model towards the business ecosystem model but are somewhat stuck in old routines. Nevertheless, both parties are dependent on each other’s comparative advantages. In addition, interoperability and data-sharing are key factors to achieve artificial pancreas and to significantly improving the delivery of diabetes care. Furthermore, it is no longer just producing the devices and mobile apps that foundational to success, but companies in future will be evaluated on data exploitation and utilization. These developments pose significant challenges to diabetes firms. Where they need to redesign mechanisms to utilize the gathered data.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Innovation in Health Care, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages73
SupervisorsTill J. Winkler