How companies are tapping into interconnected ecosystems to drive business growth, and four characteristics of ecosystem enablement
To build internally, to centralize and wall-off resources, assets, and infrastructure, to prioritize competitive advantage over customer experience—these are all deeply ingrained business instincts. Yet slowly but surely, the largest organizations in the world are embracing a counter trend. This trend strikes traditional business leaders as counterintuitive, even counter-competitive.
Businesses are opening up
They are opening up to unlikely partners, sometimes even competitors, by sharing innovations, business information and data, by creating interoperable devices, and even relying on strangers to design ways to make their products better.
While ecosystems have always been part of doing business, the shift from material economy to information economy renders a paradigmatic shift in strategy: information often becomes more valuable when shared across different contexts. What’s more, this shift in strategy isn’t reserved for tech companies. Digital is forcing organizations of all kinds to open up and tap into interconnected networks—or risk losing out to competitors that do.
Ecosystem enablers both contribute to and extract value from broader networks. What follows is an analysis of four characteristics of ecosystem enablement.
1. Ecosystem enablement in products and services
Born of the need for software integration and hardware interoperability, companies are realizing that opening up their products and services can have profound competitive advantages. Take, for example, the Amazon Echo, a smart speaker whose use cases span far beyond audio. Amazon has opened up its Alexa products to brands and developers in two essential ways:
- Hardware integrations: by allowing manufacturers to integrate with it directly.
- Software integrations: by opening Echo’s skills development to the community, as well as voice services.
In effect, the product experience relies on a marketplace of apps and APIs created by developers who aren’t Amazon employees. Infusing interoperability and scalability alongside an an ever-growing list of other product or services means users enjoy a product they can speak to that evolves over time gaining new features and functions. Amazon and partners enjoy new revenue streams, new service channels, and rich contextual customer interaction data.