Shifting to the Cloud – How SAP’s Partners Cope with the Change

AbstractWith the advance of cloud technology, enterprise software vendors have introduced software platforms to facilitate third-party contributions to their ecosys-tems. This shift towards cloud-based software plat-forms affects ecosystem partners who have to adopt the new technologies, rethink their business model, and change their sales strategies. To understand how partners cope with this change, we conducted an ex-ploratory case study within SAP’s partner ecosystem after the introduction of a cloud-based software plat-form. By conducting 14 interviews within SAP and 10 partner companies, we identify three distinct coping strategies that partners adopt in the face of the shift to the cloud. Partners either (1) embrace, (2) slow down, or (3) repurpose the change. SAP in turn engages in mediation actions to increase the adoption of its plat-form and to alleviate possible negative impacts of the coping strategies. These mediation actions contribute to a continuous adjustment of SAP platform strategy. These findings contribute to literature on platform ecosystems by (1) highlighting that partners react differently to change in the ecosystem and by (2) shedding light on the interactions between platform owner and partners in the development of a platform strategy.

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