Forming ecosystems to deliver value

In our days, Companies are wrestling with how to engage with their customers differently. Customer segmentation and what are known as customer journey maps are common ways to engage with customers, enabled by mobile, social and so-called big data insight into what customers care about. An ecosystem perspective extends how to engage with customers; it places the customer in a broader context of interaction — of the various types of ‘blurring’ that a combination of technology evolution, business model innovation and behavioral expectations create.

There are different types of ‘blurring’ that exist: between products and services, consumers and producers, virtual and physical presence, as well as across industry boundaries. Each of these ‘afford’ new opportunities to engage with customers in new ways, from *their* rather than *your* typical perspectives. At the same time, we live in times where we observe a strong fusion among traditional verticals. Banks start acting as a marketplace, trying to copy and adjust what Amazon did in retail, Telcos focus on elements used to be parts of the insurance vertical and logistics become a blurry thing between industries and various stakeholders.

The implications of these new ways of engaging are significant on the capabilities — what we call ‘the new 20%’ of critical capabilities critical to capture the new sources of value and consequently, which business ecosystem to engage in and how to do so.

Insight into business ecosystems and how to engage, if not architect them, is as relevant for small and medium-sized businesses as it is for larger ones. The reason has to do with the need to build these businesses in such a way to take advantage of the new sources of opportunity — and wide range of capabilities — that business ecosystems catalyse, orchestrate and execute.

A simple analogy is to consider why the vast majority of small businesses never get off the ground. Even though they may have a great idea, they have no sense for how distribution works. The result is a great idea and a great product with no way to make it to the marketplace. Similarly, but with far greater complexity, a business ecosystem provides myriad points of entry, and roles to perform, where small businesses can tap into and become part of much larger sets of capabilities and opportunities. If the small business is not built in a way to take advantage of the ecosystems model it will quickly die off, as though it were cut off from its oxygen.

The phenomenon will be not being unlike that of the industrial revolution, mass manufacturing, the advent of utility grids and centralized power, or even the emergence of the Internet. In each of these cases the laggards who dismissed the new trend were left in a position where they simply could not compete in a cost-effective manner in anything other than small niche markets.

In our days all major brands, consultancies, agencies do something about digital. Couple years ago, things changed, the responsibility to understand people, their habits and map their journey and activities across the day shifted from the media houses and creative agencies to design houses. New terms were created, old ones got a generous refurbishment, fancy presentations started being circulated and everything seemed to have a strong dynamic and juice able to push things to new much more productive dimensions. Nowadays, we observe the oxymoron of great plans, great strategies to be created, designed, new ways of working to be evangelised, new forms of partnerships to be structured, advanced technologies to become the cornerstone of how the digital is defined but all these seems to forger to something important. How to create value for an organisation but also how to deliver it fast in a continuous delivery mode.

Therefore, beyond all the buzz words we can use, at the end of the day, what it is critical is to design how we can deliver value fast. Delivering value requires an excellent coordination of all involved parties, deep knowledge of what technology can do for the organisation and the most important, a strong will to move forward and change things that always seemed to work well.

In addition to that, all the transformation projects should aim to deliver, apart from the value and speed, scale. We can’t plan and design only for what matters for a problem we have today, or for something focused on providing solutions to things can’t get bigger and more complex. Designing for scale will give us the capacity and the room to explore how we can create new revenue streams for an organisation, while we optimise how we use technology, define the best API strategy and structure our microservices implementation roadmap.

Based on these, and by having in place scalable digital projects aiming to continuously deliver value in a fast pace we create a organisation which is relevant. Relevancy is what separates failure from success, delivery from missing goals, growth from shrinking, expansion from extinction. At the end of day, we need to understand that industry verticals don’t exist anymore but what does exist are dynamic formation of relevant to our needs business ecosystems.

Ecosystems that need technology more than ever to survive and expand but also the in-depth no linear understanding of the interactions of all involved parties to make sure that they deliver the reason they had been created at the first place. To deliver value and make things less complex for all their users and entities.

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