Technological Diversification into ‘Blue Oceans’? A Patent-Based Analysis of Patent Profiles of ICT Firms
27 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2017 Last revised: 17 Aug 2017
Date Written: March 29, 2017
Over the last couple of years, considerable attention has been focused on the Internet of Things (IOT). Technological change, coupled with reductions in the size and cost of components, has led to growth in the IOT – while many consultants speculate about the number of connections that will occur over the next few years, many companies are developing and launching a range of products and services in areas such as smart cities, healthcare, logistics etc.
While companies are attracted by the potential of IOT, entering these markets may be easier said than done. Companies may possess a set of resources that may not be suited to the IOT, or may find the rapid pace of technological change and market growth too challenging for them. These markets, however, are attractive because they lack established players with the consequence that they could be lucrative. These markets are integral to the ‘Blue Ocean’ strategy outlined by Kim & Mauborgne (2005 and 2014).
In this paper, we seek to understand how established companies are approaching the IOT through analysing their patent portfolios. We follow Sadowski et al (2016) in defining IOT, with this definition then being used to identify relevant patents. Through this approach we identify 1322 ICT companies with an interest in IOT technologies. These companies are clustered into five clusters – aviation and automobile, electronics and electric manufacturing, software and computing, networking equipment and wireless equipment. The extent to which leading companies in these clusters are well positioned differs, with some being better placed to enter IOT markets than others are. Furthermore, the analysis highlights the difficulties of operationalising ‘Blue Oceans’ in new and emerging markets like IOT. The analysis, does, however, give rise to a range of issues that require further research.
Keywords: Technological diversification, Blue Ocean strategy, Internet of Things, patenting profiles, ICT companies
JEL Classification: 032, O31, D22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation