On the way to the Silicon Economy

The path to the Silicon Economy is via specialist and platform components. How companies can benefit from the open source components now and in future – an overview of all the important user perspectives from current developments for a federal platform economy.

Components for services and platforms

Digital platforms are the business model of the 21st century, especially in logistics. The term Silicon Economy is now associated with establishing or supporting the establishment of a federal platform ecosystem: the coexistence of and interaction between a wide variety of platforms that are connected or in principal can be connected through the universal use and reuse of both the specialist and platform components, which together with the hardware components form the central components of the Silicon Economy.

All the components for the decentral platform economy of the future are currently being developed as open source in the Silicon Economy projects. In this way, the target of the Silicon Economy is getting closer and closer as it advances component by component. The components are available in a Silicon Economy repository free of charge and as open source to all interested companies.

The benefit perspectives of the components are as diverse as logistics itself: on the one hand, companies can use them to improve internal processes and generate new business. On the other hand, they benefit from the fact that logistics processes are de facto standardized through the extensive use of the Silicon Economy’s specialist components. Finally – in a fully implemented Silicon Economy – companies will have the opportunity to revolutionize their business by connecting and networking platforms.

Benefit perspective 1

Improving companies’ own processes

»Better Business« and »New Business«

By using specialist components from the Silicon Economy, companies can improve and extend the services which they already use or they can set up new services based on the specialist components. The company’s own IT processes can be compared with the state-of-the-art, and interfaces between customers and service providers can be standardized (»Better Business«). As a result, the integration of additional business units, branches abroad or external locations is simplified. At the same time, business can be extended and new business models can be implemented (»New Business«).

A company has been using a platform with a commercial service providing ETAs for trucks. Up to now, the company has used geocoordinates provided by this service to determine route options based on a commercial map provider. A geocoding specialist component developed in the Silicon Economy now offers the possibility to determine routes based on Open StreetMap which offers more in-depth details in certain areas.

A company has been using a platform with a commercial service for digital load carrier exchange. The Silicon Economy now provides suitable open source specialist components – for example, a counting mechanism based on AI. These can now be integrated simply in the already existing service.

For the basic logistics functions of a transportation management service, a company can use Silicon Economy specialist components while developing individual functions itself. On the one hand, this approach can be considered for corporate groups and large companies with their own IT departments. On the other hand, start-ups can also benefit from the fact that they can integrate such specialist components in a scaled manner.

As a result, there will still be different systems for comparable solutions. Yet, by increasing the use of the specialist components, the solutions get closer and closer to each other – an important step towards the interoperability and coexistence of platforms.

Benefit perspective 2

Standardizing logistics processes

De facto standardization

Logistics companies offer many services today to serve the general expectations of the market with regard to certain basic functions or services. In the Silicon Economy, these services are called »Commodity Services«. I.e.: these services do not represent the economic or intellectual (market-differentiating) unique selling proposition of a company. Nevertheless, their development is accompanied by both high levels of development effort and risk and by correspondingly high costs for the companies. Examples for that are services such as goods tracking, paperless documentation of load carrier exchange, producing and managing digital consignment notes or order management for intralogistics. There are in fact often no standardized or recognized software solutions on the market for such »Commodity Services«. Each company uses different software developed by its own IT department or a software company. There has hardly been any acceptance for such stand-alone solutions in logistics up to now.

As such »Commodity Services« are principally used by a wide circle of users, they are particularly suited for joint open source development:

In an as large as possible group (industry consortium/community) efforts and risks for the development of the services can be shared. The stronger the commitment of users, the faster the application can spread.

The extensive use of Silicon Economy services will create de facto standardization. The larger the group of developers and, particularly, of users of the services, the closer you get to having de facto standardization.

As a result, this »bottom-up« approach makes a significant contribution to the agreement needed within the logistics community with regard to the pragmatic standardization of processes. This makes automation potentials for orchestrating services on platforms, as well as for initiating and concluding contracts, billing and documenting logistics services all possible.

It cannot be denied that the open source services developed together here will compete with the software of other providers. They can also use the open source services, however, to extend and improve their own software.

Benefit perspective 3

Networking the platforms

Not only offering services but also operating platforms

The complete implementation of the Silicon Economy depends on the coexistence and cooperation of the various platforms. This Silicon Economy enables companies to be not only service providers but also platform operators. The operation of services regularly requires a suitable environment – whether in a company’s IT department or in the cloud. The platform is such an environment, the »home« of each service. That is why platform components are developed in the Silicon Economy in addition to specialist components (however, no complete platforms!). These components are there to establish connectivity between platforms. On the one hand, it is about querying which Silicon Economy services are available for use on a platform and, on the other hand, the use of these services themselves. For this purpose, the platforms are networked with each other via the secure data space IDS (International Data Spaces) and the identification and authentication of companies is ensured.

The platform components include:

Logistics Broker

IoT-Broker and Blockchain Broker

IDS Connector

The benefit of using brokers to establish platforms lies in the fact that a company does not need to decide itself which technologies to use nor does it need to come to an agreement with other participants of the supply chain who might favor or use a different technology. The interplay between the brokers enables existing platforms to be supplemented and new platforms to be set up simply so that services can be used together.

Operating and using the Silicon Economy services on widely differing and partly networked platforms all help the target vision of the Silicon Economy to emerge – an ecosystem of federal platforms.

You want to know more about the use of Silicon Economy components?


Christian Prasse
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