Managing Software Platforms and Ecosystems: Call for Papers


Submission deadline: 1 Dec. 2017

Publication: July/Aug. 2018

A software ecosystem is a set of actors functioning as a unit and interacting with a shared market for software and services, together with the relationships among them. Software ecosystems are pervasive, and software-producing organizations are increasingly realizing that their ecosystem is what makes them and their technologies successful. Decisions to join an ecosystem are made on a strategic level but also typically on an operational level by senior software engineers. These engineers have been coined “kingmakers” because their decisions might lead to long-lasting relationships with the technical platforms they choose to produce technology for.

Two challenges exist for open, closed, and hybrid licensed software-producing organizations. First, organizations have the challenge of creating innovative, useful, and open extendible platforms. Second, a lack of knowledge exists among practitioners and academics on how to start, incubate, grow, and manage ecosystems.

This theme issue calls for contributions that study platforms and ecosystems in the large or take the vantage point of a software-producing organization (open and closed source) and its position in its surrounding ecosystem. Articles on ecosystems in the large can be topical studies of value chains and networks of software-producing organizations and the underlying platforms. For articles taking the vantage point of a software-producing organization, we particularly solicit contributions that address the challenges managers face in improving and strengthening their positions in ecosystems—for instance, by defining open source contribution strategies, creating partnering models, or starting a developer ecosystem. We’re also highly interested in more technically oriented contributions: topics such as novel ecosystem architectures, app analytics, API deprecation and platform evolution, and cloud development environments and their role in ecosystems.

One kind of software ecosystem deserves special attention: developer ecosystems. The coordination of such ecosystems is challenging because managers must ensure that they’re welcoming, useful, productive, and beneficial for their members, generally without immediate results for the supporting organization’s bottom line.

Managing software ecosystems is a challenge for software-producing organizations in four ways. First, the platform the developer ecosystem focuses on must be extensible, flexible, robust, and evolvable and must provide facilities for rapidly developing new solutions. Second, the ecosystem must be managed by organizing events, coordinating feedback, helping developers help each other, and so on. Third, the software-producing organization must be ready to accommodate developers by readily providing easy access to the platform as well as support, knowledge, and advice. Finally, the organization must keep track of other ecosystems and open source’s role in the platform and must invest in supporting platforms and ecosystems.

In this theme issue, we especially invite software ecosystem researchers and practitioners to put forward their innovations, strategies, and technologies for managing such ecosystems. Furthermore, we invite contributions that address unorganized ecosystems (in which no particular leader or keystone can be identified) that actually show longevity and the propensity for growth.

In particular, we request contributions in these domains:

  • platform development,
  • growth and management of developer communities,
  • organization and governance for developer ecosystems,
  • ecosystem competition, and
  • ecosystems in the large.

Guest Editors

Submission Guidelines

Manuscripts must not exceed 3,000 words including figures and tables, which count for 250 words each. Submissions exceeding these limits might be rejected without refereeing. Articles deemed within the theme and scope will be peer reviewed and are subject to editing for magazine style, clarity, organization, and space. We reserve the right to edit the title of all submissions. Be sure to include the name of the theme issue for which you’re submitting.

Articles should have a practical orientation and be written in a style accessible to practitioners. Overly complex, purely research-oriented or theoretical treatments aren’t appropriate. Articles should be novel. IEEE Software doesn’t republish material published previously in other venues, including other periodicals and formal conference or workshop proceedings, whether previous publication was in print or electronic form.


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