01. Operations and Process Management
Purpose: Our study focuses on Industry 4.0 technology provision. SMEs technology providers may need the support of different supply chain actors to be able to cope with the vast range of technology domains needed in the Industry 4.0 context. We study the contribution of four types of supply chain actors: suppliers of technology components, other companies from the same sector, R&D centers, and technology adopters (customers). We analyze how these four actors moderate the effect that the offer of Industry 4.0 integrated solutions has on three main competitive strategies: cost, focalization and differentiation.
Methodology: We conducted a survey in 77 automation SMEs, using OLS regression with moderating effects. As independent variables, we consider the level of integration of 15 technologies and 7 classic automation activities in the offer of Industry 4.0 solutions. As dependent variables, we study three outputs representing metrics of competitive strategies: technology cost reduction (cost), customer loyalty (focalization) and technology innovation (differentiation). As moderators, we consider four types of supply chain actors.
Findings: Expanding the range of technology offering allows to increase customer loyalty and technology innovation. Collaboration with other technology complementors leverage these results as well as it helps to reduce technology costs. On the other hand, customers and R&D centers elevate costs, but R&D centers can foster long run innovation.
Originality/value: Our results demonstrate the importance of creating supply chain networks (or ecosystems) between technology providers to offer wider solutions for Industry 4.0.
PALAVRAS-CHAVE: industry 4.0; supply chain network; technology providers; smes; collaboration