Research Challenges

The “Research Roadmap on new forms of Enterprises” as produced by the FutureEnterprise consortium, in close collaboration with the FutureEnterprise experts, constitutes a report summarising and grouping together the major challenges that enterprises and entrepreneurs should tackle in order to transform themselves into new organisations (called “new forms of enterprises”) towards reaching sustainability and growth in the future landscape where technology plays a vital role and becomes the main driver of all aspects of the human life. Such new forms of enterprise are inherently digital (not simply use digital as distribution channel or for operational support), are driven by continuous business innovation and act as multi-sided platforms that deliver (shared) value to the whole ecosystem.

In total, the final release of the roadmap, which is primarily targeted at researchers, includes four (4) Grand Challenges that aim to clearly identify areas where further research is needed in order to provide the necessary assets to enterprises and entrepreneurs to achieve the desired digital transformation.

The four Grand Challenges along with their accompanying research challenges can be regarded as a sequence of steps which set the ground for the transformation and then are executed in a circular and iterative manner (as shown in the next figure), to allow constant evolution and innovation.

In more detail, the Grand Challenges are as follows:


GC#1 aims at providing a view on the required elements that an enterprise should consider in order to transform itself and develop the necessary readiness level that will make it possible to pursue advanced digital operations ad targets, such as employing smart analytics and building new, self-governed and shared-value generating collaboration platforms, as defined in the following GCs.

The identified research challenges, that build up this Grand Challenge, consist of:

  • RC1.1 – Next Generation Enterprise Architectures. Modular, easy to customise and solutions-driven Enterprise Architecture principles and frameworks, taking into account the emerging flexible and constantly evolving corporate structures adopted by innovation-driven enterprises and supported by methods and tools that allow loosely coupled, albeit flawless and effective systems and resources integration.
  • RC1.2 – Multi-Disciplinary Organisation and Operations Design Mechanisms. Methods and tools that allow the co-design of new methods of operations and services for the digital transformation of the existing operational principles that run within and across the enterprise, through improved knowledge sharing and consensus generating mechanisms, allowing all actors of the value chain to collaborate towards the generation of improved e-services.
  • RC1.3 – Responsive and Multi-scale Business Automation Systems. Self-learning automation systems serving both IT infrastructures and human personnel, supported by innovative methods that digitise and automate business processes, work patterns and information flow.
  • RC1.4 - Secure and Versatile Business Mobility Solutions. Renovated software as Apps and Web Apps introducing increased mobility aspects in workplace that may lead to reengineering, and allowing company employees to perform their tasks in an anywhere-anytime-any device scenario.
  • RC1.5 – Digital, Open Knowledge Repositories and Marketplaces. Repositories and intangible asset pools of an open access nature, becoming major intelligence storing and retrieval points, serving multi-disciplinary actors and stakeholders towards improving research and innovation skills within enterprises.



GC#2 concerns the prevalence of a pervasive, intelligent, proactive but also rapidly responding and user-friendly business environment that will constantly assess the plethora of factors that affect the everyday operation of an enterprise and will constantly push intelligence (and not just information) to its stakeholders, in a personalised manner. This will allow enterprises to grasp a better understanding of their operational environment and of their own performance, identifying strong and weak points, and emerging opportunities and threats that should be constantly considered and tackled in order to become context-aware and responsive to the best possible extent.

The identified research challenges that build up this Grand Challenge consist of:

  • RC2.1 - Multi-source Data Analytics Services for Real-Time Business Critical Decisions. Analytics based on data coming from widely deployed IoT and smart dust networks in the business units and in the production lines of enterprises to constantly monitor information towards issuing proactive notifications and serving business personnel with easy-to-use, powerful decision support.
  • RC2.2 - Predictive and Prescriptive Crowd-based Analytics powering Business Innovations. Analytics and value-added information generation of internal and external information sources towards identifying and revealing potential innovation and market related business opportunities.
  • RC2.3 – Human Intelligence and Machine Information Flows’ Blending Platforms. Combining enterprise critical data flows with human derived ideas, knowledge and experience, resulting in the deployment of artificial intelligence enterprise agents to grasp on emerging opportunities and transform business realities and processes.
  • RC2.4 – Smart and Personalised Intelligence delivery systems. Next generation analytics, combining raw sensor data, historical logs and business knowledge and best practices, coupled together with smart and personalised recommendation systems to provide intelligence-rich services beyond plain information to various stakeholders over different access channels.
  • RC2.5 – Shared Anonymised SMEs Analytics over federated cloud-based platforms. Opening up and sharing SME business data through federated cloud-based platforms that interface with hundreds of proprietary and open source business solutions and data repositories, to transform SME data and expose it in an anonymized manner through meaningful and value-added cloud-based analytics.
  • RC2.6 - Smart and Collaborative APIs for cognisant business processes. APIs integrated to all business-related systems to allow the controlled exposure of information at real-time, turning every machine and IT platform within an enterprise into IoT elements.
  • RC2.7 - Responsive and Dynamic Visualisation and Augmented Reality Services for Business Functions. Intuitive and responsive visualisations and augmented reality methods to combine physical, virtual and digital characteristics of business operations and knowledge of products and services, towards demonstrating enriched, inclusive, adaptive and interactive information surrounding all processes, business intelligence and business offerings.



GC#3 explores the definition, experimentation and constant evolution of novel business models that challenge traditional operating models, follow the paradigms of the Sharing Economy and the Circular Economy, and capitalize on novel technologies and Future Internet assets in business environments in order to introduce unique innovation propositions at multiple levels, ranging from the innermost configuration (workplace, enterprise architecture) and the core product / service offerings of an enterprise, to the customer-facing, networking elements of its business system (user experience).

The identified research challenges that build up this Grand Challenge consist of:

  • RC3.1 – Circular Supply Chain Management. Shifting value along the supply circle and replacing the end-of-life concept with restoration by closing products / services / materials loops and regenerating assets.
  • RC3.2 – Boundless Open Innovation Ecosystems. Building upon the existing principles and successful results of open innovation, new methods and ways of multidisciplinary collaboration towards innovation emerge, bringing together and converging ecosystems’ boundaries for shared value generation and multi-fold knowledge exchange.
  • RC3.3 - Collaborative Prosumption Models. Capitalizing on the sharing or meshing of assets, products and services, collaborative consumption techniques are taken to the next levels with the advent of the “maker” culture.
  • RC3.4 – Collective Ideas Flow on ever-evolving and interactive Business Plan Lifecycles. Advanced modelling and simulation techniques to allow all stakeholders interact and collaboratively manage the business plan (with appropriate privacy rights) across its lifecycle.
  • RC3.5 – Crowd market validation of Business Innovations. Advanced enterprise gamification and social networking techniques, involving users, suppliers and employees serving the purpose of instant validation of any potential business innovation on which an enterprise plans to invest.
  • RC3.6 – Reverse engineering of innovation. Beyond-the state of the art business modelling and simulation techniques supporting reverse engineering of a business model from its parts, assisting any stakeholder understand the business plan which is recommended to pursue for their offerings when they are trying to “copy” external innovations.
  • RC3.7 – Innovation Diffusion & Adaptation Techniques. Novel techniques to investigate the innovation patterns across markets in systemic ways, diffuse and adapt innovations beyond the geographic and organizational boundaries still need to be explored.



GC#4 embodies a radically different context for business innovation and collaboration among organisations, with new platforms that promote collaboration, boost productivity and enable business innovation in consistent lifecycles; from invention to production, from supply chain management to ERP systems, and from customers’ adoption to collaboration with internal business functions or external partners.

The identified research challenges that build up this Grand Challenge consist of:

  • RC4.1 - New forms of Marketplaces. New forms of marketplaces allowing organisations to collaborate either as customers or as providers, in order to develop solutions that meet business problems better (i.e. faster, easier, with less resources) than before.
  • RC4.2 - Interoperable and Open Enterprise Platforms. Platforms available and connectable through common, real-time enabled APIs, enabling secure interactions and trustful transactions among different organisations.
  • RC4.3 - Innovative lean-driven and experimental management platforms. New sets of tools, methodologies and management techniques to build experimenting frameworks and increase enterprises’ innovation rate through idea sharing, open collaboration, crowdsourcing and innovative knowledge management methods.
  • RC4.4 - Independent Platforms for Inter-organisation Relationships and Trust. Unstructured data analysis and KPIs evaluating the as-is situation of organisations, allowing financial situation identification, and building trustful relationships among different entities, coupled by policy frameworks for collaboration and access/sharing of corporate information through automation infrastructures.
  • RC4.5 - Recommendation systems in B2B transactions. New generation recommendation systems, powered by real-time data, must be in position to provide useful recommendations to organisations about new B2B offerings, capable of improving their performance, facilitate operations and solve existing problems.


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