Andres Alcayaga, Erik Hansen,
"Internet of Things enabling the Circular Economy: An Expert Study of Digitalisation Practices in B2B Firms"
, Serie IQD Research 2022, No. 1, Johannes Kepler Universität, Linz, 3-2022
Internet of Things enabling the Circular Economy: An Expert Study of Digitalisation Practices in B2B Firms
Sprache des Titels:
The circular economy and the Internet of Things (IoT) are two major developments reshaping the business environment. Firms may embrace the opportunities provided by the circular economy approach to innovate their business models and offer higher value to their customers and society. In order to address circularity, firms can adopt a range of activities known as circular strategies (maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling, among others). However, there are barriers that hinder the operationalisation of circular strategies, such as the lack of knowledge by the producer firm (or service provider) about the condition, location, and status of the product. Producer firms may not know what customers actually do with their products during the use phase, which may prevent the planning and execution of take-back, reuse, or remanufacturing activities. In this sense, digital technologies within the framework of the IoT could enable the operationalisation of circular strategies. Smart products and their amplified capabilities could deliver valuable data to create transparency about their life cycle, facilitating decision-making, and streamlining the extension of their service life.
Against this background, the question arises of how firms deploy digital technologies for developing circular strategies. To answer this question, and due to the emergent nature of this field, we conducted a qualitative study of business practices of pioneering firms in the business-to-business (B2B) domain. Qualitative research is well suited to understand new phenomena due to its logic of discovery and openness. We conducted 35 expert interviews at 27 different organisations to gain viewpoints from various industries. We focused on experts from German-speaking countries (mainly from Austria), which were selected considering their experience in either developing IoT-enabled circular strategies or in diffusing their implementation.