The paper introduces the user pathway to complementarity and shows how users identify and create novel combinations that go beyond those foreseen by firms. The research is based on two cases Home Connect smart home platform by BSH Hausgeräte and Philips Hue lighting system by Signify and in addition uses digital trace data from Olisto and IFTTT.
The study builds on a rich dataset consisting of interviews with employees and users, observations, internal firm documents, and digital trace data from intermediary toolkit providers (which create interfaces between two or more products).
It turns out that companies generally lack insights to recognise potential useful combinations, instead, they often build partnerships based on brand value or user base. Users, on the other hand, are better able to identify which products they want to combine, but lack the technical skills to do it. To handle the technical aspect, some users use intermediary toolkits. The study concludes that users could guide firms through intermediary toolkits in identifying the most valuable combinations and decide on collaborations to expand their ecosystems for the benefit of users.
The study is slated for publication in the near future