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Prof. Dr. Stephan Aier

Titularprofessor, Geschäftsführer
+41 71 224 3360


  • Unternehmensweite Informationssysteme
  • Digital Platform Ecosystems
  • Unternehmensarchitekturmanagement
  • Data Management und Data Analytics
  • Digitale Transformation
  • Simulation Modeling
  • Forschungsgebiete

  • Digital Platform Ecosystems
  • Enterprise-wide Information Systems
  • Data Management and Analytics
  • Publikationen

    get_appSacha Fuchs, Roman Rietsche, Stephan Aier, Michael Rivera
    More and more employees request feedback from their organizations to develop and learn. This is reflected by a growing number of digital feedback apps which facilitate high-frequency feedback exchange. However, the effect of feedback has hardly been studied on an organizational level due to complexity. Therefore, we strive to analyze organizational feedback exchange with an agent-based simulation model. Concretely, we study the effect of feedback length and feedback frequency on the organizational return on investment (ROI) of feedback exchange. Our study shows that feedback length stays in an inverted U-shape relationship with ROI. Contrarily, feedback frequency is negatively correlated with ROI. When analyzed jointly, two sweet spots arise: one for medium-length, frequent feedback, and the other, for longer infrequent feedback.

    Platform ecosystems are complex ecologies of firms with individual competencies and collective objectives. The sustainable evolution of platform ecosystems is thereby contingent on taking advantage of the individual competencies of the ecosystem’s actors toward obtaining collective objectives. To learn more about platform ecosystem evolution and dynamics, we study Salesforce, a leading and thriving B2B platform ecosystem. We find that the ecosystem’s evolution was closely defined not only by the platform owner’s orchestrating initiatives, but also by its complementors’ and customers’ competencies and particularities. Specifically, we derive three distinct dimensions of evolution, namely the extension of the platform core technology, the extension of the platform’s functional scope, and the industry-specific specialization of the platform. We further identify three cross-dimension levers, namely proprietary developments, acquisitions, as well as partnerships and alliances, which were employed by the platform owner to drive its platform ecosystem’s evolution.

    Firms struggle to meet dynamically changing customers’ needs. One challenge is to navigate a complex search space to find resources needed for innovations that meet customers’ needs. Another challenge is to acquire the resources at lower costs than revenue opportunities to yield profitability. Digital platforms promise to address these challenges better than the market by providing search matching capabilities and modular, reusable resources. We examine whether platforms improve innovation performance and profitability of firms better than the market, as assumed. Using agent-based modeling and simulation, we find that firms perform better in the market when environmental complexity is low. As environmental complexity increases, firms start to perform better on the platform than in the market, specifically when the platform owner remarkably invests in search matching and modularity capabilities. The study advances our understanding of the environmental conditions under which platforms could be superior or inferior to the market.

    Digital platforms (DPs) – technical core artifacts augmented by peripheral third-party complementary resources – facilitate the interaction and collaboration of different actors through highly-efficient resource matching. As DPs differ significantly in their configurations and applications, it is important from both a descriptive and a design perspective to define classes of DPs. As an intentionally designed artifact, every classification pursues a certain purpose. In this research, the purpose is to classify DPs from a business model perspective, i.e. to identify DP clusters that each share a similar business model type. We follow Nickerson et al.’s (2013) method for taxonomy development. By validating the conceptually derived design dimensions with ten DP cases, we identify platform structure and platform participants as the major clustering constituent characteristics. Building on the proposed taxonomy, we derive four DP archetypes that follow distinct design configurations, namely business innovation platforms, consumer innovation platforms, business exchange platforms and consumer exchange platforms.

    (a) Problem faced: Due to heterogeneous stakeholder requirements, highly diverse tasks, and massive investments needed, enterprise-wide information systems (e-wIS) are often developed through multiple projects over long time periods. In this context, choosing the ‘right’ evolution paths becomes essential. This is not straightforward because e-wIS comprise technical, organizational, and use-related issues so that development stages need to be aligned over heterogeneous dimensions. Although maturity models (MM) are an established instrument to devise development paths, their respective development processes often lack transparency and theoretical as well as empirical grounding. Moreover, extant MM often focus on the control of certain capabilities (doing things right) rather than on providing the necessary capabilities in a sequence appropriate for a given type of organization (doing the right things). (b) Solution developed: We propose an empirically grounded design method for MMs, which devises capability development sequences rather than control levels. We instantiate the proposed method twice—for developing a Business Intelligence (BI) MM as well as a Corporate Performance Management (CPM) MM as two exemplary types of e-wIS. The artifacts are developed over three laps to successively enhance both their projectability in the problem space and their tangibility in the solution space. (c) Lessons Learned: (1) In DSR projects it often proves valuable to be open for diverse research approaches such as classical qualitative or quantitative approaches since they may purposefully ground and guide design decisions. (2) Complex artifact design processes may not be carried out by a single PhD student or published in a single paper. They require adequate decomposition and organizational integration. (3) Finally, complex and emergent artifact design processes require a reliable network of practice organizations rather than a project contract with a single organization.

    Understanding how information systems (IS) architecture evolves and what outcomes can be expected from the evolution of IS architecture presents a considerable challenge for both research and practice. The evolution of IS architecture is marked by management’s efforts to keep local and short-term IS investments in line with enterprise-wide and long-term objectives, so they often employ coercive mechanisms to enforce enterprise-wide considerations on local actors. However, an organization is shaped by a multitude of heterogeneous local actors’ actions that pursue their own, sometimes conflicting, goals, norms, and values. This study offers a theory-informed simulation model that explores how IS architecture evolves and with what outcomes in various types of organizations. The simulation model is informed by institutional theory to capture various types of organizations that are characterized by different combinations of coercive, normative, and mimetic pressures, and by complex adaptive systems theory to capture the emergent character of IS architecture’s evolution. First, we outline the insights from simulation experiments. Then, building on the simulation model and theoretical insights, we discuss implications for both research and practice.

    Enterprise architecture management (EAM) in organizations often requires coping with conflicts between long-term enterprise-wide goals and short-term goals of local decision-makers. We argue that these goal conflicts are similar to the goal conflicts that occur in public goods dilemmas: people are faced with a choice between an option (a) with a high collective benefit for a group of people and a low individual benefit, and another option (b) with a low collective benefit and a high individual benefit. Building on institutional theory, we hypothesize how different combinations of institutional pressures (coercive, normative, and mimetic) affect decision makers’ behavior in such conflictive situations. We conduct a set of experiments for testing our hypotheses on cooperative behavior in a delayed-reward public goods dilemma. As preliminary results, we find that normative and mimetic pressures enhance cooperative behavior. Coercive pressure, however, may have detrimental effects in settings that normative and mimetic pressures are disregarded. In future work, we plan to transfer the abstract experimental design of an onlinelab experiment into a field experiment setting and thus into the real-world context of EAM.

    To unlock additional business value, most enterprises are intensifying their enterprise-wide data management. In the case of the globally operating bank, we base this article on, a Chief Data Officer (CDO) organization is established for providing data governance and, in a second step, pushing data driven innovation forward. As many employees of the bank were not yet familiar with (or did not acknowledge) the need for enterprise-wide data management, this evolution exhibits characteristics of an organizational learning process. CDOs may want to actively steer this learning process by purposefully designing and adjusting their data management approach over time. Based on the major controversies the CDO has been confronted with, we propose four design dimensions for enterprise-wide data management and discuss the considerations for their configuration: (I) objective, (II) governance, (III) organization of data analytics, and (IV) expertise.

    In the context of digital platforms, platform owners strive to maximize both their platform’s stability and generativity. This is complicated by the paradoxical relationship of generativity and stability, as well as associated tensions. To aid B2B platform owners in their design decisions, we aim to derive specific design principles that address the inherent tensions such that generativity and stability are maximized simultaneously. This requires a better understanding of when and to which extent a platform’s generativity and stability are paradoxical, and under which circumstances they can be maximized simultaneously. Thus, we first develop an agent-based simulation model to analyze the effects of an exemplary design decision regarding a tension (i.e. control vs. openness) on a platform’s generativity and stability. The developed simulation model enables predictive analyses of varying degrees of control and openness and their effect on generativity and stability. The simulation model must be further refined and applied to other tensions to thoroughly understand the impact of design decisions on a platform’s generativity and stability, and ultimately derive design principles.

    Aligning local business and technology initiatives with enterprise-wide objectives remains a challenge for many organizations. To this end, Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM) imposes formal control mechanisms such as architecture plans and principles aimed at leveraging enterprise-wide standards and harnessing information systems (IS) complexity. Addressing recent calls to complement EAM control portfolios with informal control mechanisms, this study reports on the design, implementation and adoption of an Enterprise Architecture Label at a large multinational engineering company. Based on recent research on nudging, we deliberately designed the choice architecture of local decision makers. The Enterprise Architecture Label aims to influence the decision-making process, so that IS design alternatives that are preferable from an enterprise-wide perspective appear to be more attractive. Following an Action Design Research approach, the paper highlights the process of defining the underlying measurement system, designing an appropriate presentation, and the learnings and theory implications made throughout this process.



    • 1997-2002: Studium des Wirtschaftsingenieurwesens (Dipl-Ing.) an der TU Berlin, Deutschland, Abschluss mit Auszeichnung
    • 2002-2006: Promotion zum Dr-Ing. zum Thema "Integrationstechnologien als Basis einer nachhaltigen Unternehmensarchitektur - Abhängigkeiten zwischen Organisation und Informationstechnologie" an der TU Berlin, Deutschland, Abschluss mit Note 1,0
    • 2016 Habilitation mit dem Thema "Enterprise Architecture Management: Enabling Coordination of Enterprise-Wide Transformation"
    • 2017 Ernennung zum Privatdozenten für Betriebswirtschaftslehre unter Berücksichtigung der Wirtschaftsinformatik


    Kurse auf Assessment-Ebene
    seit 2010    Infotools@HSG, Einführung

    Kurse auf Bachelor-Ebene
    seit 2021    Grundlagen und Methoden der Informatik (University of St.Gallen)
    2020          Enterprise Modeling (University of St.Gallen)
    seit  2013   Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien (University of St.Gallen)
    2008–2012 Objektorientierte Programmierung mit Java (University of St.Gallen)
    2000–2002 Grundzüge der Elektronischen Datenverarbeitung (TU Berlin)
    1999–2002 Grundlagen des Maschinen- und Apparatebaus (TU Berlin)

    Kurse auf Master-Ebene
    seit 2020    Enterprise Architecture Management (University of Liechtenstein)
    2018–2020 Methoden: Architekturmanagement (University of St.Gallen)
    2018–2020 Forschungsmethoden für Geschäftsinnovation (University of St.Gallen)
    seit  2014   Enterprise Architecture (Reykjavik University)
    seit  2013   Business Engineering Navigator: Theorie und Werkzeugunterstützung für die integrierte Unternehmens- und IT-Gestaltung (University of St.Gallen)
    2009–2011 Integration und Architektur (University of St.Gallen)
    2008           Business Information Systems (University of St.Gallen)
    2008–2011 Objektorientierte Programmierung mit Java (University of St.Gallen)
    2003–2006 Enterprise Application Integration und Service Orientierte Architekturen (TU Berlin)
    2002–2006 Grundlagen der Systemanalyse (TU Berlin)
    2002–2006 Systemanalyse Projekte (TU Berlin)
    2002–2003 Rechnergestützte Systemanalyse (TU Berlin)

    Kurse auf Executive Education-Ebene
    2020            Enterprise Architecture in the Era of the Intelligent Enterprise (OpenSAP MOOC, >10'000 participants)
    2015            Enterprise Architecture Management (Logistikunternehmen In-house Programm)
    2013            Data Architecture Management (Energieversorger In-house Programm)
    2012/2013   LEAD Enterprise Architecture Program (SAP, The Netherlands)
    seit  2008    Executive Master in Business Engineering (University of St.Gallen)
    2007–2009  Enterprise Architecture Management (Logistikunternehmen In-house Programm)
    seit  2007    IT-Business Management (University of St.Gallen)  


    • 2020: Living Boundary Models for Coordination in Digital Platform Ecosystems, funded by the Basic Research Fund, University of St.Gallen 
    • 2019–2022: Ambidextrous Digital Platforms: Balancing Control and Emergence, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation 
    • 2019–2021: Corporate Agility Navigator, funded by Innosuisse
    • 2019–2020: Guiding the Co-evolution of Digital Platforms and Service Ecosystems: A Simulation-based Research, funded by the Basic Research Fund, University of St.Gallen 
    • from 2019: Data Management and Analytics Community, funded by Credit Suisse, DNB ASA, DZ Bank, Erste Bank Group, UBS 
    • 2018–2019: Behavioral Enterprise Architecture Management, funded by the Basic Research Fund, University of St.Gallen 
    • 2017–2018: Understanding Institutional Mechanisms of Controlling Information Systems Architecture Complexity: A Simulation-based Research, funded by the Basic Research Fund, University of St.Gallen 
    • 2017–2018: Architectural Thinking: Harnessing IT Complexity, funded by ABB 
    • 2016–2019: Dynamics of Institutional Mechanisms in Enterprise-wide Information Systems Architecture, funded by: Swiss National Science Foundation
    • 2016–2018: A Value Co-creation Language (ValCoLa), funded by: Swiss National Science Foundation, Fonds National de la Recherche Luxembourg
    • 2016: Understanding Institutional Mechanisms of Controlling Information Systems Architecture Complexity: A Simulation-based Research, funded by the Basic Research Fund, University of St.Gallen
    • 2015: Decentralized Coordination in Complex Information Systems, funded by the Basic Research Fund, University of St.Gallen 
    • from 2013–2019: Business Intelligence in Banking Community (BI BC) funded by Commerzbank AG, Credit Suisse AG, Deutsche Bank AG, DNB, DZ Bank, Erste Group AG, UBS AG
    • 2012–2013: DWH 2.0 – Management of Transformation, funded by Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation, IBM Switzerland, UBS AG 
    • from 2011: Competence Center Corporate Intelligence (CC CI), funded by AXA Winterthur, Barmenia Versicherungen, Bundesagentur für Arbeit, Commerzbank, EnBW, Helsana, Raiffeisen Schweiz, RWE, Swiss Post, Swiss Re
    • 2011–2014: A Design Theory for Architectural Coordination of Enterprise Transformation (ACET), funded by: Swiss National Science Foundation, Fonds National de la Recherche Luxembourg
    • 2006–2011: Competence Center Integration Factory (CC IF), funded b AXA Winterthur, Axpo Informatik AG, Barmenia Versicherungen, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Leasing, Deutsche Telekom Laboratories, Finanz Informatik, Munich Re, Novartis International, PostFinance, RTC AG/HP Banking Center Bern, RUAG, SAP, Zürcher Kantonalbank  


    2021      Best Paper Award, European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS 2021)
    2021      Most Innovative Paper Award, Internationale Tagung Wirtschaftsinformatik (WI2021)
    2021      Best Reviewer Nomination, Internationale Tagung Wirtschaftsinformatik (WI2021)
    2016      Best Paper Nomination, European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS 2016) 
    2015      Best Paper Nomination, Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 2015) 
    2013      Junior Scientist Business Innovation Award, University of St.Gallen 
    2011      Junior Scientist Business Innovation Award, University of St.Gallen 
    2010      Best Paper Nomination, International Conference on Design Science Research in Information Systems and Technology (DESRIST 2010)  


    Verband der Hochschullehrer für Betriebswirtschaft e.V.
    Association for Information Systems (AIS) 
    Swiss Chapter of the AIS (CHAIS)


    • Architektonische Herausforderungen in Digitalen Plattform Ökosystemen, 3. IT-Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM) Hybrid-Konferenz, Wien, 14.06.2021
    • Architekturmanagement: Mit Paradoxien und Dilemmata umgehen, Lean EAM-Konferenz, München/online, 28.10.2020
    • Management der Architekturkomplexität: Nudges als Steuerungsinstrumente, 4te Jahrestagung: EAM – Richtungsgeber für die Digitale Transformation, Berlin, 15.5.2019
    • Regeln, Steuerung und Gehorsam oder „einfach mal laufen lassen“: Architekturmanagement in der digitalen Transformation, Lean EAM-Konferenz, München, 7.11.2018
    • Eine Portfoliosicht auf architektonische Steuerungsmechanismen, 48. St.Galler Anwenderforum, St.Gallen, 29.10.2018
    • Data Architecture for the Business Side, Data Management Round Table, Credit Suisse, Zürich, 6.11.2018
    • Architectural Coordination of Enterprise Transformation (ACET), EEWC 2018, Luxemburg, 1.6.2018
    • Was bedeutet es „wirklich“ Management in komplexen Architekturen zu betreiben? EAM – Richtungsgeber für die digitale Transformation, Berlin, 30.11.2017
    • Steuerung komplexer Architekturen, 46. St.Galler Anwenderforum, St.Gallen, 13.11.2017
    • Die Komplexitätsfalle der Digitalisierung … und wie Architekturmanagement damit umgehen kann, Lean EAM-Konferenz, München, 17.10.2017
    • Von digitalen Illusionen, Strohfeuern und Volltreffern – und wie es dazu kommt, IHK Business Outlook: ICT-Konferenz 2017, St. Gallen, 25.04.2017
    • Architectural Thinking: Lösungskomponenten, Deutsche Bahn: SOA Innovation Lab, Frankfurt am Main, 12.10.2016
    • Architectural Thinking: Harmonisierung lokaler Perspektiven, UBS: BI in Banking Community, Zürich, 11.10.2016
    • Architectural Thinking: Warum mehr Architekturmanament nicht zu einer besseren Architektur führt und was wir stattdessen tun sollten, Konferenz: Quo vadis EAM? Berlin, 27.09.2016
    • Enterprise Architecture Management: What it is, why it matters, and what it takes to make it a success, Bayer Business Services, Berlin, 26.09.2016  
    • How we lost control: Rolle und Nutzen des Komplexitätsmanagements in grossen BI-Landschaften, DW2015, 24.11.2015, Zürich
    • IT-Management: Agil oder günstig oder beides? Die St.Galler Idee eines modernen Architekturmanagements, Geschäftsleitungsworkshop, IT Post CH, Bern, 17.11.2015 
    • Architectural Thinking: EAM nicht nur für Architekten? 42. St.Galler Anwenderforum, St.Gallen, 08.06.2015 
    • Architectural Thinking, Architekturtag Commerzbank, Collegium Glashütten, 27.11.2014
    • Informationsversorgung von Unternehmenstransformationen: Wann, was und wie viel? DW2014, Zürich, 18.11.2014
    • Warum Unternehmenstransformationen unausweichlich sind und wie wir damit umgehen, Innovationstag Barmenia Versicherungen, Wuppertal, 25.08.2014
    • Architectural Coordination of Enterprise Transformation, KTH Stockholm, 11.06.2014
    • Wie tief muss die Facharchitektur modelliert werden? Konferenz Facharchitektur in Banken, Leipzig, 05.05.2014
    • Verhinderer oder Gestalter: Sollten wir die Rolle des Architekten weiter entwickeln? 41. St.Galler Anwenderforum, St. Gallen, 24.03.2014
    • BI als Transformation: Systematisches Management von Transformationen, DW2013, Zürich, 12.11.2013
    • Kaffeesatzlesen oder systematische Steuerung? Kennzahlengetriebenes Management von BI-Landschaften, DW2013, Zürich, 11.11.2013
    • Entwicklungsstufen des Unternehmensarchitekturmanagements, Opening Keynote, Swiss IT Intelligence Community (SITIC): Strategy & Enterprise Architecture, PricewaterhouseCoopers AG, Zürich, 12.06.2013
    • Erfolg von Outsourcing, Steinbeiss Unternehmerforum, Stuttgart, 22.03.2013 Wie werden unternehmensweite Intelligence-Infrastrukturen wirklich wirksam? DW2012, Zürich, 12.11.2012
    • Jenseits von Methoden und Modellen: EAM in unterschiedlichen Unternehmenskulturen erfolgreich machen, Opening Presentation, ITAMKO: IT-Architektur-Management-Konferenz 2012, Vienna, 17./18.10.2012
    • Referenzarchitekturen – Brauchen wir sie, und wenn ja, wie viele? Opening Keynote, Swiss IT Intelligence Community (SITIC): Topic Forum on Technical and Functional Reference Architectures, Postfinance, Zofingen, 20.09.2012
    • Jenseits von Architekturframeworks: Was sollte eine Organisation mitbringen, um EAM verkraften zu können? EAM Community Schweiz, Zurich, 19.09.2012
    • EAM wirksam machen: Warum EAM kein Nischenprodukt sein kann und was es ausser guten Modellen und Methoden braucht, 36. St.Galler Anwenderforum, St. Gallen, 04.06.2012
    • What’s right and what’s wrong with Enterprise Architecture, Opening Keynote, 6th Enterprise Architecture Management Conference 2011, Marcus Evans, Berlin, 23./24.05.2011  
    • (IT) Service Management und (Enterprise) Architecture: Ein akademischer Blick auf die Themen „Run the Business“ und „Change the Business“, Opening Keynote, Swiss IT Intelligence Community (SITIC): Topic Forum on Architecture Management & ITIL, Zürcher Kantonalbank, Zurich, 11.03.2010
    • Nutzen und Gestaltung der Unternehmensarchitektur, Deutsche Kongress: Unternehmensarchitektur, Frankfurt/Main, 21.04.2009 Gute Architektur trotz oder wegen Standardsoftware?, 10. Architekturforum der Capgemini sd&m, Zurich, 11.05.2009
    • Serviceorientierung in Unternehmensarchitekturen: Die „richtige“ Transparenz als Basis von Flexibilität und Agilität, Berner Architekten Treffen, Bern, 12.06.2009
    • Planung der Unternehmensarchitektur und Unternehmensarchitektur als Planungsgrundlage, Deutsche Kongress: Unternehmensarchitektur, Zurich, 08.09.2009
    • Enterprise Architecture: Infrastruktur für Business Innovation, 20 Jahre IWI-HSG, St. Gallen, 18.09.2009
    • Unternehmensarchitekturen serviceorientiert gestalten: Die passende Dosis Transparenz für mehr Flexibilität und Agilität, Capgemini sd&m AG: SOA – Von der Theorie zur Praxis, Munich, 07.10.2009
    • Wozu Unternehmensarchitekturen gut sind – und wozu nicht, Deutsche Kongress: IT-Architektur, Frankfurt/Main, 20.02.2008
    • Wert-und stakeholderorientierte Gestaltung der Unternehmensarchitektur: Wozu Unternehmensarchitekturen gut sind – und wozu nicht, Deutsche Kongress: Unternehmensarchitektur, Zurich, 09.09.2008
    • A Stakeholder Based Approach to EA Engineering, The Open Group Conference, Munich, 22.10.2008
    • IT-Architekturmanagement und Unternehmensarchitektur, IQPC: IT-Architekturmanagement, Cologne, 05.12.2006
    • Planung und Flexibilität von IT-Architekturen, IIR, Frankfurt/Main, 04./05.07.2005
    • EAI und Architektur – empirische Befunde, Dritter EAI-Expertentag, Berlin, 25./26. November 2004
    • EAI – Der zweite Schritt: Voraussetzungen und Elemente flexibler Architekturen, EAI-Forum, Mainz, Mai 2004 

    Weitere Informationen

    Stephan Aier ist Titularprofessor und Ständiger Dozent an der School of Computer Science der Universität St.Gallen (SCS-HSG) und Geschäftsführer des Instituts für Wirtschaftsinformatik (IWI-HSG). Am IWI-HSG ist er Co-Leiter der Architectural Coordination Group. Er ist Diplom-(Wirtschafts)-Ingenieur (2002) und promovierte sich 2006 zum Dr.-Ing. an der TU Berlin. Im Jahr 2016 habilitierte er und wurde 2017 zum Privatdozenten, 2020 zum Titularprofessor und 2021 zum Ständigen Dozenten der Universität St. Gallen ernannt.

    In anwendungsorientierten Forschungsprojekten u. a. mit AXA Winterthur, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Telekom, EnBW, Motorola, HP, IBM, Munich Re, Novartis, Post CH AG, Finanz Informatik, RUAG, RWE, Swiss Re, UBS, Barmenia und weiteren wurden die theoretischen Arbeiten praktisch angewendet. Stephan ist Autor von mehr als 150 Publikationen in den Bereichen Architektur, Integration und Plattformen. Er ist neben seiner Arbeit in der grundständigen Lehre sowie der Executive Education regelmässig Vortragender auf Konferenzen und Seminaren für Praktiker.