Thesis defense of Kati Brock, September 4, 2018

On Tuesday, September 4, 2018, Kati Brock will defend her PhD thesis “New Business Development for Smart Cities: Thinking Outside the Bulb”. This thesis has been supervised by prof.dr. F. Langerak, P.H. den Ouden and dr. K.S. Podoynitsyna. The ceremony will take place in the Senaatszaal of the Auditorium of the Eindhoven University of Technology at 16:00 hrs.

Rome was not built in a day, and neither are smart cities. The acceleration of the urbanization process combined with increased digitization (i.e., the Internet of Things, IoT) has initiated a vision of smart cities, with many companies trying to ensure their fair share in this potentially multimillion dollar market. Already since 2008, more than 50% of the world’s population live in urban areas and the UN predicts that by 2050, together with a global population increase, the amount of people living in cities will rise to roughly 70%. This puts immense pressure on the infrastructure, facilities, and economies of cities. Indeed, these projections highlight the need for ‘smarter’ cities, where innovating urban infrastructures and technologies become crucial for a sustainable future.

While technology-driven companies, such as Philips Lighting, are key to making smart cities a reality, they must adapt to meet changing needs, as smart city innovations demand more fast-paced product development, shorter product lifecycles, increased external collaboration, and cross-boundary industry disruption. This puts considerable pressure on the existing product-centric innovation processes and business models of Philips Lighting. Philips Lighting needs to go through a literally think outside the bulb to create and capture new (smart city) business, but struggles to do so.

Therefore, during her PhD project, Kati Brock explored what challenges Philips Lighting faced during the digital transformation from lighting to smart cities and how these can be overcome. The different studies of her dissertation collectively show that digital transformation challenges occur, but are not limited to the individual, the project, and the organizational level. She finds that business model analogies, an agile way of working, as well as a business model typology can help an incumbent, such as Philips Lighting, overcome their new business development challenges. Moreover, the complexity of smart cities and becoming a successful smart city player is also reflected in the interdependencies between the challenges and solutions of the three levels. Failing to address any one of the challenges can result in not achieving the digital transformation envisioned and needed for a sustained competitive future.