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Flower Bouquets and Ecosystems

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Flower bouquets, based on the concept of modularity, are traded over complex platform ecosystems. A close look at flower bouquets provides insights into the complexity and challenges of flower business ecosystems and its transformation from supply to demand orientation. Experiences with platform ecosystem designs are shared and critical success factors are discussed.


  • Digital platform design
  • Flower bouquets
  • Modularity
  • Platform ecosystems

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  1. 1.

    Insights about the Nini Flower Group, including Lamorna Flowers and Nini Flowers, and the flower industry in Kenya are in Nini Flowers (2020).

  2. 2.

    Holland Flower Alliance and Amsterdam Logistics (2019, Feb 14).

  3. 3.

    Fresh (2019, June 19).

    YouTube (2016, Sept 13).

  4. 4.

    In De Vries E (2018).

  5. 5.

    Insights about Flowerbx are in Thomas D (2019, February 27).

  6. 6.

    Quotes in Thomas D (2019, February 27). Quotes “Usually, flowers go to” and “You buy the flowers”.

  7. 7.

    The story of Bloomon is in Bloomon (2014, November 20).

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    Banis D (2018, January 4).

  8. 8.

    Netflix data are based on Koblin J (2019, October 17).

    Spangler T (2019, Jan 18).

    Regalado M (2018, April 30).

  9. 9.

    A digital hologram of a flower bouquet, including digital floral scent, could be the ultimate digital flower product. In such a case these digital flowers will be provided over a digital platform such as digital movies over Netflix or digital music over Spotify.

  10. 10.

    The PostNL case is based on Van Dam B (2018, November 30).

  11. 11.

    The MIT CISR research is based on Ross J, Beath C, Mocker M (2019). With quotes: “big, old companies,” “less likely to own responsibility” (p. 9), “the holistic organizational configuration” (p. 5).

    Mocker M, Ross J, Van Heck E (2014, February 27). For an overview of MIT CISR research have a look at Accessed 7 Sept 2020.

  12. 12.

    Many companies transform toward digital. However, as Jeanne Ross (MIT CISR) concludes one needs to distinguish between digitization and digital. As she indicates: “Digitization involves standardizing business processes. It is associated with cost cutting and operational excellence. But “becoming digital” is a totally different exercise from digitizing. Although digitization is an important enabler of digital—and digital technologies can certainly support operational excellence—all the digitization in the world won’t on its own make a business a digital company. Becoming digital involves a very different kind of transformation. Digital refers to a customer-centric value proposition.” in Ross J (2017, Sept 29) and Ross J, Beath C, Sebastian I (2017, October 19). We will return to the important distinction between digitization and digital in Chap. 7.

  13. 13.

    The pre-sales channel analysis is in Truong HM, Gupta A, Ketter W, Van Heck E (2019).

  14. 14.

    In 1935, the British botanist Arthur Tansley introduced the ecosystem concept into biology. It is described as a community of organisms interacting with each other and the elements of their environments, such as air, water, and earth. In order to thrive, these organisms compete and collaborate with each other to divide available resources, and they co-evolve and jointly adapt to external disruptions. Tansley AG (1935).

    See for a historical review Willis AJ (1997).

    In 1993, James Moore, president of a management consultancy firm, introduced the business ecosystem concept in the field of business strategy and implementation, where a company is viewed “not as a member of a single industry but as part of a business ecosystem that crosses a variety of industries. In a business ecosystem, companies evolve capabilities around a new innovation: they work cooperatively and competitively to support new products, satisfy customer needs, and eventually incorporate the next round of innovations.” Moore JF (1993, May/June).

    According to Amrit Tiwana a platform-based ecosystem consists of two major elements—a platform and complementary apps and the alignment between platform ecosystem architecture and governance is a necessary condition for success. See Tiwana A (2014).

  15. 15.

    Ajit Kambil and myself researched the design of electronic markets in our book Making Markets that was inspired by the redesign of the Dutch flower markets at that time.

    Peter Vervest and myself initiated in 2005—in collaboration with academic colleagues and business executives—the Smart Business Network Initiative (SBNI) and developed the concept of smart business networks with a focus on business network orchestration, network structure and processes, and the underlying digital infrastructure.

    Several academic colleagues active in the Workshop of Information Systems and Economics (WISE) community developed the notion of platform ecosystems such as Marshall van Alstyne, Erik Brynjolfsson, Geoffrey Parker, Amrit Tiwana, and D.J. Wu.

    Strategic decisions about the design of electronic markets, smart business networks, or platform ecosystems are based on:

    Kambil A, Van Heck E (2002).

    Van Heck E, Vervest P (2007).

    Hagiu A (2014).

  16. 16.

    Details of the flower platform ecosystem design are based on Van Heck E (2018, November 30) And Van der Zwet C (2018).

  17. 17.

    The company readiness research with the four paths is based on Weill P, Woerner S (2018).

  18. 18.

    Application programming interfaces (APIs) are a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. An API specifies how software modules should interact. Companies that are born digital use APIs to design and implement software for all their products, services, and processes.

  19. 19.

    The value of information and data sharing in floriculture logistics in Nguyen QV (2019, September 6).

  20. 20.

    The four decisions and data analytics applications are based on Nguyen QV (2019, September 6). It is also published in Nguyen QV, Behdani B, Bloemhof J, Hoberg K (2020).

    For an overview of the physical and information flows in the logistical processes of the direct flows from the suppliers (growers) to the customers (wholesalers or retailers) in the floriculture chain, see Fig. 5.3.

  21. 21.

    Anticipatory shipping was invented by Amazon Technologies Inc. and the patent was granted in December 2013 (Patent US8615473B2).

  22. 22.

    Amazon’s anticipatory shipping is Kopalle P (2014, January 28).

    Bensinger G (2014, January 17).

    Spiegel JR, McKenna MT, Lakshman GS, Nordstrom PG (2013, Dec 24).

  23. 23.

    About Libra in Libra Association Members (2019, June 16).

  24. 24.

    A blockchain is a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data.

  25. 25.

    In a paper by Diniz E, Kampers E, Van Heck E (2017), ten key questions were identified that are helpful in the design and implementation of digital community currencies and can be used in the design of the FloraCoin as the flower community currency.

    These ten key questions are:

    • “Key Question 1: what are the objectives and purpose of the currency platform?”

      • The objective of FloraCoin is to create currency stability for the floriculture community and to minimize currency fluctuation risks.

    • “Key Question 2: what is the adopted business model for the currency platform?”

      • The business model of FloraCoin is that participants will get lower currency fluctuation risks and that there will be a more stable price level for flower products and services for the producers, wholesalers, and retailers of flowers. Sources of income could be via grants and donations, fees (membership, transaction, and exchange), or advertising.

    • “Key Question 3: what is the governance model for the currency platform?”

      • Governance broadly refers to who decides what in any platform’s ecosystem. Although there are other levels of decision (e.g., strategic and operational), one way to understand the governance of a community currency is to evaluate how centralized or shared is the decision-making process about rules for issuance for a particular project, given that this is central to the process of managing a currency. With Royal FloraHolland as grower cooperative a shared governance model of FloraCoin with their clients (wholesalers and retailers) is foreseen.

    • “Key Question 4: what is the architecture model for the currency platform?”

      • The level of openness of the architecture in a given platform can be considered at three levels—provider, technology, and user level. The provider level recognizes the strategic involvement of key stakeholders that provide a platform. The technology level is concerned with the interoperability of a platform across different technologies. The user level relates to what extent a platform discriminates different segments of the customer base. The FloraCoin architecture will be closed in nature and membership will be members and clients of the RFH cooperation.

    • “Key Question 5: what is the regional scope for the currency platform?”

      • A community currency can be designed to be used only under certain geographical limits or being global by definition. FloraCoin will be a global currency given the global nature of the flower industry.

    • “Key Question 6: what is the backing system for the currency platform?”

      • Backing is a design feature of a currency which guarantees the long-term purchasing power of a currency. This means that the issuer of a currency guarantees the exchange of a currency for either another currency or a commodity. The backing principle can be used to limit the issuance of a currency as well as to infuse trust in project that does not have government endorsement. Backing of the FloraCoin will be provided by the flower business community.

    • “Key Question 7: on which pegging system (parity) the currency platform is based?”

      • Community currencies can be pegged in units that allow them to be compared with other value systems, i.e., when one unit of a community currency is equal to one unit of any official currency. The FloraCoin parity with the Euro currency is a logical choice given the dominance of flower trading in the European Union.

    • “Key Question 8: what are the categories of transactionality performed by the currency platform?”

      • Transactionality refers to the types of transactions that can be performed by the distinct groups of users that the platform brings together varying from single to multiple profiles. With FloraCoin we can distinguish among growers, transporters, logistic service providers, wholesalers, and retailers as the main group of users.

    • “Key Question 9: does the currency platform allow convertibility?”

      • Convertibility to the official currency provides the “sensory connection” needed to ensure the “real value” of a community currency, thus making it more amenable to adoption. Thus, in terms of convertibility to official currencies, a community currency can be convertible, offer limited convertibility, or not be convertible. In case of FloraCoin a limited convertability to the Euro will be foreseen.

    • “Key Question 10: what is the level of virtuality offered by the currency platform?”

      • Virtuality is related to the physical closeness between two agents operating a payment transaction. The face-to-face transactions improve “knowledge acquisition, trust and friendship” since buying physically in local shops offer opportunities for sociable interactions in local communities, reinforcing the community feelings often desired for a community currency. Payments made by inserting cards in a Point-of-Sales (POS) machine or with Near Field Communication (NFC) technologies are examples of transactions where physical presence is demanded. For FloraCoin digital payments are foreseen given its advanced payment system.

    The taxonomy is developed in Diniz E, Siqueira E, Van Heck E (2019).

    The concise summary of the research results is in Diniz E, Van Heck E (2018, Nov 6) and Van Heck E, Diniz E (2019, Jan 17).

  26. 26.

    The invention of the World Wide Web in Berners-Lee T (1989, March).

  27. 27.

    On October 29, 1969, three months after Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin landed on the moon with the Apollo 11, for the first time a message was delivered between two computers. These two computers were at the University of California in Los Angeles and the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California. The message text was meant to be the word “login,” but only the L and O were transmitted before the system crashed. The Internet, at that time called ARPANET, and its underlying TCP/IP protocol were born.

  28. 28.

    The development of TCP/IP in Mols B (2019, Oct 29).

    Neggers K (2019, Nov 8).

  29. 29.

    The redesign of the Internet is in Berners-Lee T (2019, March 12).

    Contract for the web defines “nine principles and indicates that principles 1 to 3 are for governments, 4 to 6 are for companies, and 7 to 9 are for citizens”:

    1. 1.

      “Ensure everyone can connect to the internet.”

    2. 2.

      “Keep all of the internet available, all of the time.”

    3. 3.

      “Respect and protect people’s fundamental online privacy and data rights.”

    4. 4.

      “Make the internet affordable and accessible to everyone.”

    5. 5.

      “Respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data to build online trust.”

    6. 6.

      “Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst.”

    7. 7.

      “Be creators and collaborators on the Web.”

    8. 8.

      “Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity.”

    9. 9.

      “Fight for the Web.”

    The contract for the web and its nine principles are in:

    Accessed 7 Sept 2020.

  30. 30.

    Solid-based startups are in Corbyn Z (2018, September 8).

  31. 31.

    iShare is based on principles developed and explained in Liezenberg C, Lycklama D, Nijland S (2019).

  32. 32.

    Data monetization strategies are based on work by Wixom B, Buff A, Tallon P (2015, January). Buff A, Wixom B, Tallon P (2015, August). With quotes: “that are rare, hard to replicate, and difficult to substitute.” (p. 2), “recognize that their clients” (p. 2), and “become masters” (p. 2).

  33. 33.

    The Insights example is from Royal FloraHolland (2020).


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van Heck, E. (2021). Flower Bouquets and Ecosystems. In: Technology Meets Flowers. Springer, Cham.

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