WIK Study on Competition in the Platform Economy published

Digital and data-driven business models and their orchestration in platforms and ecosystems have led to the emergence of a new generation of global market leaders. New opportunities of value creation for users have also led to new competition and societal concerns.

In this study, these issues are systematically analyzed and summarized based on a structured literature review. Digital platforms in particular, often based on complex algorithms and data usage, may exhibit new types of economies of scale and scope and may entrench concentration tendencies.

In addition to current approaches to market and dominance definition, a number of potentially anti-competitive practices and constellations are analyzed, such as self-preferencing, horizontal and vertical dual roles, or data-driven acquistion strategies. Also, possible remedies are critically discussed.

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Acceleration of broadband roll-out

Study on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport

The roll-out of future-proof mobile and fixed broadband networks is of central importance for Germany. This report for the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport shows approaches on how the network roll-out can be accelerated by creating suitable framework conditions. To this end, we have analysed ten case studies and conducted expert interviews with stakeholders in order to identify recommendations for measures which can be applied to other network roll-out projects.

The best practice examples indicate that the motivation and initiative of the stakeholders involved at project level are a decisive element for the acceleration of network roll-out. In addition, the following three leverages have the greatest potential to accelerate the network roll-out:

1. improvement of communication
2. formation of larger roll-out clusters
3. end-to-end digitalisation of the approval processes.

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360 degrees overview on the current state of digitalization in SMEs

The current study "360 degrees overview of the state of digitization in SMEs" looks at the current state of digitization, opportunities and obstacles as well as digitization applications in German SMEs.

The results indicate that there is a considerable potential for digitization compared to (international) competitors, but that SMEs have recognized this potential. Some approaches seem particularly suitable for SMEs to implement digitization projects:

  • Networking between SMEs and highlighting positive examples.

  • Promoting acceptance among employees and managers: Transparent internal communication or the use of internal influencers can help here, for example.

  • Companies must also be aware of the importance of digital transformation in the shortage of skilled workers: Skilled workers perceive digital and thus more modern companies as more attractive employers.

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The main features of 6G

The expectation is that the future 6G cellular standard will usher in a new era over the next decade, with billions of things and people generating and communicating a vast amount of digital information. The study provides an overview of recently initiated 6G research activities in Europe and the world.

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IoT for SME – potentials and challenges

Diverse application possibilities for track & trace and remote monitoring

IoT can be used to optimize business processes, expand existing products and services or develop completely new business models. The study focuses on the potential for SMEs and is illustrated using five selected practical examples. In addition, challenges of implementation and the development of suitable framework conditions for SME are briefly discussed.

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How do German telecoms compare to their European counterparts?

WIK study analyses financial and capital market data

This study evaluates, compares and analyses key figures from the financial statements of publicly listed German and European telecommunications companies. Furthermore, their capital market performance and their stock market valuation expressed by pertinent multiples are compared with each other.

Our results show no indications for structural differences between German and European companies. We find, however, obvious differences between the different business models applied. Noteworthy is the superior stock market performance and the associated high multiples of wholesale-only operators.

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Price differentiation for fixed-line broadband products

Significant price differences between national and rural-focused broadband operators

Based on an examination of the double-play offers (internet + telephone) of 96 fixed network providers in Germany, WIK analysed the product design and pricing for different technologies and bandwidths with special attention to the regional marketing focus of the different broadband providers.

Exciting insights into the current supply landscape can be derived from this: Providers with a focus on rural regions can often achieve a significant price premium compared to broadband providers acting nationally. A majority of the providers offering both - xDSL and FTTB/H connections - do not differentiate prices by technology for products with the same bandwidth. Finally, it is noticeable that a considerable number of providers who offer their tariffs via potentially gigabit-capable technology (FTTB/H, cable) do not market gigabit products.

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Research Brief ‘Success factors for local online marketplaces’ published

Local online marketplaces are one among many ways to promote local trade. Their number has grown significantly in recent years, and especially since the onset of the Corona pandemic. However, when looking at the success of the individual initiatives, large differences become apparent. A first short study from November 2021 on this topic highlights selected case studies of successful local online marketplaces. This study highlights the challenges for the marketplaces described and summarises the success factors for economically sustainable operation. The focus is on the success factors: project management for a lively marketplace, digitalisation of products and processes, local awareness of the online marketplace and integrated local delivery.

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Research Brief on the role of alternative letter service providers in growing e-commerce

Five case studies on strategies of alternative letter service providers and challenges they face

Based on an examination of the double-play offers (internet + telephone) of 96 fixed network providers in Germany, WIK analysed the product design and pricing for different technologies and bandwidths with special attention to the regional marketing focus of the different broadband providers.

Exciting insights into the current supply landscape can be derived from this: Providers with a focus on rural regions can often achieve a significant price premium compared to broadband providers acting nationally. A majority of the providers offering both - xDSL and FTTB/H connections - do not differentiate prices by technology for products with the same bandwidth. Finally, it is noticeable that a considerable number of providers who offer their tariffs via potentially gigabit-capable technology (FTTB/H, cable) do not market gigabit products.

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Analysis of IT security certificates among SMEs

WIK study Trust in data processing published

Enterprises strengthen the trust of customers in their products and services with a label or certificate. This confirms an appropriate level of IT security of the company. However, time-consuming and costly certificates stand side by side with labels without recognizable significance. Therefore judging whether the label or certificate meets the requirements of an SME often requires significant research.

The WIK study identifies 49 labels that are potentially relevant for SMEs. It analyses the publisher, test objects, costs and acceptance of the label. It also considers the quality infrastructure in Germany and alternatives to labels such as GAIA-X. 

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Experimental Evidence on Ad-blocking Adoption and Users’ Acquisition of Information

Ad-avoidance technologies such as ad-blocking add-ons in browsers have become mainstream tools in recent years. Over time they surpassed their niche role as applications only for the technically savvy and became an essential tool for many internet users. While the technical impact of these tools has been well researched, their effects on actual consumer behavior is still unclear. In an experimental setting this study provides first evidence on the effect of ad-blocking on users’ ability to acquire information. We find that ad-blocking leads to more effort being exerted and increases social welfare by reducing inefficient searching. Additionally, ad-blocking induces users’ visit duration on websites to be more elastic in the experienced intensity of advertisement, which consequences a more competitive environment among publishers. The results provide new perspectives on ad-blocking and inform the current debate on looming ad-tech regulations in the light of DMA and DSA initiatives.

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WIK Study on Artificial Intelligence in SMEs published

Artificial intelligence (AI) is finding its way into more and more areas of business. More than 30% of the companies in a survey by the industry association Bitkom state that they currently use AI, plan to use it or are at least considering using it. For almost two-thirds of the companies, however, the use of AI is still not on the agenda.

The aim of the study was to clarify which possibilities exist to support SMEs in the implementation and use of AI, especially with regard to the necessary data. It turns out that the topic of data availability cannot be seen in isolation and that it is necessary to integrate and raise awareness of this topic in all areas of the company.

The study is based on an explorative online survey of SMEs and IHK consultants with a focus on data availability in the context of AI applications, an analysis of available case studies as well as validating expert interviews.

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Mittelstand-Digital Spotlight: Cloud & KI

WIK-based accompanying research organises webinar series for SME

Titled "Mittelstand-Digital Spotlight: Cloud & AI", the accompanying research of the funding priority "Mittelstand-Digital" continues the "Spotlight" webinar series. In the three-part series of events, experts from the network's centres together with representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will provide insights into the use of cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in SMEs. Following each of the three events, there will be an opportunity for exchange and networking.

In each of the scheduled dates, the webinar series will focus on a different topic related to the use of Could and AI technologies in SMEs:

  • Mi, 27.04.22, 16:00 – 17:30 Uhr: Cloud Computing – A concern or a success factor for SMEs?

  • Mi, 04.05.22, 16:00 – 17:30 Uhr: Possible applications and legal aspects of the use of cloud & AI

  • Mi, 11.05.22, 16:00 – 17:30 Uhr: Cloud & KI – Dream team or partnership of convenience?

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