Designing ecosystem strategies – shaping future businesses
The business landscape has changed. The once linear path from demand to supply has been replaced by constantly evolving and complex systems of connected value-generating services, activities and entities.
Future-proof your business through ecosystem thinking
For businesses to succeed, they need to take action and adopt an ecosystem mindset to ensure the continued creation and enablement of value.
To do so, tools, methods and processes are needed in order to act at scale and with speed.
Below, we'll provide you with an introduction to how we design and strategise at the forefront of the ecosystem-economy, shaping everything that's next in business innovation.
"A business ecosystem is an environment-specific community or group, consisting of internal and external connected entities, collaborating in numerous configurations in a circular value exchange."
A strategic force
Business in the connected world
The complexity of today's markets radically alters the core tenets that shape a successful business. Competition is no longer only found within a specific industry, but more often than not, it emerges from players in other industries.
The rapid evolution of technology and new business models also plays a big part in the perception of competitive advantages – most advantages are short-lived, putting a larger impetus on a business to stay adaptable at scale.
Add that consumer expectations are changing at speed. Increasingly, consumers value those businesses that can meet their rapidly shifting expectations. A recurring expectation is a mantra of integrating sustainability into everything. No business today will stay relevant unless sustainability forms a core part of a businesses value.
Ecosystems as a key strategic force
In a study for Google, we interviewed twenty-five top-tier CEOs across the biggest Brazilian corporations to discover what is top of mind for them. A major finding was that their industry boundaries are becoming contested and redrawn as the traditional sector-based view reaches its limits. A more systemic approach or strategy was identified as a key factor that is important for them to adapt to the change in the organisational landscape. Three key insights were:
Insight 1: A strategic lever
They all believed that as boundaries become blurred, there is a need for a strategic approach that is more flexible. They see ecosystems as a common mindset solution for preparing for the future, internally and externally.
Insight 2: Vague definitions
Across their businesses, interviewees stated different definitions and purpose of use, pointing towards a shared outline and common language as to why and how to adapt to ecosystems strategies.
Insight 3: No clear next steps
All interviews pointed towards the challenge of moving from idea to execution. Visualising the future state and how to get there is difficult. A clear plan for long-term impact and short-term action is needed.
Democratising futures thinking with ecosystem design
Businesses that engage in futures thinking are able to address long-term problems and innovate - not just react, but navigate and thrive in the future. An ecosystem approach gives you a big picture view.
It helps you understand the existing landscape to identify directions for further study and experimentation using signals and trends to predict the future.
The ecosystem design process
The ecosystem design process has four phases, moving from the initial understanding of a need, to the final execution of ecosystem entities, all with different focuses, specific actions and assets.
1 – Recognise & mobilise
Understanding of the purpose to change, and a need for a new approach – ecosystem thinking.
2 – Understand & prepare
Execution of research and internal analyses to start the transition – what does status-quo look like?
3 – Design & probe
Visualise and prototype the future-state to establish a testable vision – a fast visual representation.
4 – Strategise & execute
Detail the elements of the vision state, prototyping to validate assumptions and detail the roadmap.