The ecosystem economy includes partners, suppliers, and key people to communicate with within the company. So it’s not just the immediate industry you move in, but a vast network of people and businesses to constantly keep in touch with to keep your own company afloat.
“No company exists in a vacuum; each is part of an ecosystem.” – Steven J. Bowen, Total Value Optimization: Transforming Your Global Supply Chain Into a Competitive Weapon
Value is created within an ecosystem of operations. Thriving in a cutthroat world, despite whatever business you may have, means building a network of partnerships that are more collaborative, more integrated, and more fluid. Redefining how you work with certain people in your ecosystem will help your company survive and even thrive in its next phases.
There will be lesser phone calls, emails, and face-to-face meetings in the new ecosystem. Here are a few innovative moves to help your company thrive and flourish:
1. Value orchestration over vertical integration
Value orchestration is the future of services, according to Forrester. Gone are the days when companies need to tap into the Cloud to find a particular service to fit their needs. Instead, value orchestration brings new partners specializing in several services into the ecosystem so that companies only need to look inward to find what they need.
Service providers within the ecosystem shall:
- Invest in partnerships and technologies that speed up business. These alliances will accelerate service provision within the company, which in turn gets services to clients faster.
- Use packaged software and various platforms to create a solution faster than you can blink. Having these with the ecosystem will have you and your partner companies churning out solutions even before your client needs them.
- Have transparency, trust, and value alignment as the foundation of the ecosystem. Clients are more likely to gravitate towards a company with these values since it’s easier to rely on a business that is transparent about everything that goes on behind providing services.
- Share risks and rewards with the rest of the ecosystem. Align value within by sharing everything from pricing to at-risk fees so that everyone is aware of what the company is going through. Who knows, someone might even find a solution to the risks you are facing.
Partnerships do not just mean partnering with another company or business; it also means partnering with your people within the company. The ecosystem only becomes successful when it is stronger from within. However, it also means bringing in specialists who will add value and a strong line of specialization to the ecosystem.
2. Partners and the supply-chain risk
Supply chains worldwide experienced disturbances because of the pandemic, and it has kept company leaders on their toes, watching and waiting for the next risk to emerge. However, resilience is being built in the ecosystem by risk mapping, and relationship audits for suppliers because of these disturbances.
To effectively manage a supply chain, understanding the risks connected with it is critical. The pandemic won’t be the only crisis that a company will face, so understanding and thus effectively predicting risk will be vastly helpful to the ecosystem.
“The pandemic presents opportunities for establishing new relationships with partners/suppliers who are better equipped to help the company address urgent short-term needs and to capitalize on significant long-term opportunities. It’s vital to ascertain how long your company could ride out a supply shock without shutting down.” – Industrial Marketing Management
Additionally, taking a temp check on your business partnerships will help you determine which relationships are worth keeping. If your partners are still relevant and can keep up with your innovations on serving your clients, they can be kept. Partnership audits will help you check which ones will help you solve problems and overcome risks.
3. Secure the ecosystem
Since the ecosystem is a cyber network, it is prone to cybersecurity risks brought upon by remote work and open collaboration. Prior to the pandemic, certain perimeters were secured with a firewall. Nowadays, since everyone is working from home, using Wi-Fi and personal devices to gain access to the ecosystem, it is more exposed and less protected from cybersecurity threats.
“We expect to see remote workers using VPNs and additional security measures to protect company data while they work from home. In fact, since the pandemic began, one of the top policy changes made in organizations has been to increase VPN capacity for remote workers. We use Slack Connect to communicate externally with partners like Afterpay, Bendigo Bank, and TransferWise. It gives us a history and audit log of transactions of all the communications. It means that all companies are able to communicate with each other really easily.” – IFSEC Global
The best thing to do is employ VPNs (virtual private networks), enterprise-grade collaboration solutions, and device management platforms for everyone working remotely. Consumer-grade apps won’t just cut it anymore since they cannot provide enough regulatory compliance and security for an entire ecosystem.
“Consider digital organization as the self-organized but interlaced and hyper-connected ecosystem.” – Pearl Zhu, Digital Maturity: Take a Journey of a Thousand Miles from Functioning to Delight
Technology management will be easier with specialists within the ecosystem handling it. As a result, the environment is strengthened from within, and there are additional layers of protection on the outside.
4. New ways of connecting
Using Slack Connect will keep everyone in the loop without risking important information. Channels can be created for certain members, departments, and partners, and no one is left behind. In addition, information dissemination and cascading memos are easier with Slack since everyone can see messages meant for them with one click.
“Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication.” – Mike Krzyzewski
Using such an app means everyone can develop better professional relationships with one another since it’s easier and faster to send responses. Ultimately, this will lead to better service for clients whenever they need it.
Is Creating Value Equal to Creating Strategy?
The answer is a resounding yes. If you start creating value within the ecosystem, you and your partners will be able to build strategies to keep the ecosystem working. Not only that, you will be able to maintain great working relationships with everyone, from leaders to team members.
Building a strategy will help a company grow internally since everyone will be able to build long-lasting professional relationships with one another. The ecosystem economy will also grow as more partners are brought in to create a network of suppliers, distributors, and middlemen to keep the production going.
There is no one leader in the ecosystem economy. Instead, every business is a participant, each bringing their specialty to the table. To successfully build an ecosystem economy that is independent and self-sufficient, there are two ways to govern: access and attachment. Let’s take a further look at these two.
There are three types of systems: closed, managed, and open. To determine what system you may want to have in the ecosystem, you have to understand what each system means.
A closed system involves tightly implemented rules and regulations, and information is cascaded from the top down. As a result, some team members are not kept in the loop. A managed system involves guidelines to follow, but these are not strictly implemented. Team members are allowed freedom and discretion in a managed system. An open system involves the barest minimum of participation.
Success is determined by employing a combination of two or three aspects of each system. First, an ecosystem can work only by giving each team member the information they need to finish their job on time and contribute to production. That is only possible when the ecosystem is well-managed.
Partners, team members, and third-party affiliates need to have a certain attachment to the ecosystem. The key to success is helping each other innovate, according to Harvard Business Review. Another key is collaboration, and in an ecosystem creating value and strategy, partners collaborate to grow.
If partners and team members feel that their attachment to the ecosystem is valued, they will feel valued, and their loyalty will be to the ecosystem. In Javier Escalera-Reyes’ study about socio-ecological systems, people who are given a collective identity within the ecosystem feel more appreciated, contributing more to the betterment of their partners and team members. They also become more protective of their environment, an extra layer of protection against competitors.
The New Partner Imperative
In a successful ecosystem economy, there is no supplier power play anymore. Partner relationships are not rigid anymore, and companies and businesses use APIs to communicate with one another. Team members are given a place in the ecosystem where they can freely discuss their ideas with leaders and suppliers. Communication is done in real-time, and fewer emails are sent.
Third-party suppliers are kept in the loop about the ecosystem. But, most importantly, there is an abundance of information available to everyone at any given time, wherever they may be, and however they can access it.
Up Next: The Future of Work on Customer Experience
As customers interact with a different parts of your business, it is best that they are all working in sync and up-to-date on information. A slow or conflicting response can result in bad customer experience and potential loss of clients in the future.
This means, that different departments that used to work independently must now learn to co-exist and intermingle on a regular basis. We talk about this and more on the next installment of our Future of Work Blog series.
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