Understanding the current trends in mobile crowdsensing - a business model perspective: case MyGeo Trust

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Information and Service Management (ISM)
Crowdsensing and personal data markets that have emerged around it have rapidly gained momentum in parallel with the appearance of mobile devices. Collecting information via mobile sensors and the applications relying on these, the privacy of mobile users can be threatened, especially in the case of location-related data. In 2015, a research project called MyGeoTrust was initiated to investigate this issue. One aim of the project was to study the potential business models for a trusted, open-source crowdsourcing platform. This study, carried within the MyGeoTrust project, reviews existing literature about business models, location-based services, and open-source software development. It then investigates the relationship between these topics and mobile crowdsensing. As a whole, this thesis provides an overview on the development of location-based services, as well as the current trends and business models in crowdsensing. The empirical part of the thesis employs embedded case study methodology, acquiring empirical data from several sources. The analyzed case is the MyGeoTrust project itself, and other empirical data is collected via market analysis, interim reports, a user survey, and semi-structured interviews. This material forms the baseline for the empirical study and project-specific recommendations. The findings suggest that creating a two- or multisided platform is the most robust business model for mobile crowdsensing. The identified benefits of platform-based business models include facilitating the value exchange between self-governing groups and possibilities to build positive network effects. This is especially the case with open-source software and open data since the key value for users - or “the crowd” in other terms - is created through network effects. In the context of open business models, strategic planning, principally licensing, plays a central role. Also, for a differentiated platform like MyGeoTrust finding the critical mass of users is crucial, in order to create an appealing alternative to current market leaders. Lastly, this study examines how transformational political or legal factors may shape the scene and create requirements for novel, privacy-perceiving solutions. In the present case study, the upcoming European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation is a central example of such a factor.
Thesis advisor
Tuunainen, Virpi
business models, platform business, mobile crowdsensing, location-based services, open-source software, open data
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