The significant transformation taking place around exploiting technology and digital management has made ecosystems and platforms a mainstream prospecting need, in most of our businesses today. We must engage in what all of this means and its business impact. I certainly believe the ecosystem approach will increasingly become the main value-producing stream for innovation delivery.
Platforms, strategic partnerships, new business models all will be on the agenda of any serious global organization and ecosystems through platforms are the organizing environment to enact these.
Jeffrey Phillips and I have collaborated around different innovation thinking for some years and in a late August 2016 discussion, over Skype, we realized that what was emerging from our usual exchanges and insights was that the area of Innovation within Ecosystems was gathering pace and what did that mean for innovation in future business and practice implications?
In Jeffrey and my latest collaboration what became different, is instead of a series of stand-alone posts or thought papers, we would place this collaboration into a dedicated “ecosystem” posting site was created to reflect the world of ecosystems we need to explore.
Why not take a look, it is building in its diversity of understanding, exploring this fascinating area of platforms and ecosystems and what this means for innovation. I believe this is heralding in a “new innovation era”
Why the difference in having a dedicated website?
It is our growing understanding that all of ‘the dynamics of the innovation system’ we all operate within, is evolving all the time and in this particular intersection that we have chosen, is highly dynamic and fluid. Understanding ecosystems and platforms is evolving in front of our eyes. So to put our thinking and collaborative time into this we felt a dedicated website allowed us to post insights, knowledge, experiences and discoveries on a constant, evolving basis.
The reality beckons: Today larger organizations need to face the stark truth
Either organizations will adapt or die. We are undergoing a fundamental transformation in business. Technology offers us the transforming means but can we, as leaders, as innovators, as customers take all of what this means on board? It needs bold leadership. The structure of our business today cannot afford to try to stand alone, it needs to extend beyond its traditional supporting partners. It needs to learn to collaborate with a whole new range of partners, even some of your existing or previous competitors, to radically adapt to the different world we live in. We need to adapt.
Learning to collaborate in new, more open ways
Yet moving from the present position of offering specific stand-alone, unconnected products and services into ones built on technically connected ones, where they collaborate and be part of an ecosystem of partners, that are pushing to provide greater customer experience, that they learn to connect into becomes of a higher value, as against discrete products is a massive strategic and organizational change in learning how to open up and collaborate.
The delivering of totally different value propositions for the ultimate consumer is a highly daunting challenge. It ‘upends’ much, if not all, of how our business organizations have been organized around, mostly within themselves, it is going to need radical change, the organizations is needing inverting. It calls for bold management to instigate such a transformation and open up to external collaboration and exchanges.
Opening up our thinking towards ecosystems will have a powerful effect
Our whole understanding of innovation is certainly changing; we are evaluating and changing our existing focus from closed (internal orientation) into open and far more collaborative innovation (external orientation) with our collective thinking offering the acceleration into improving our innovation performances, leading to higher chances of achieving greater impact and success.
The search is seemingly on for finding greater value and that will increasingly coalesce around innovation ecosystems. We are in need to ‘form’ in many different ways, significantly build more relationships that increasingly matter to each organization, ones that add value, insight and bring external expertise inside, to work on ‘greater’ innovation solutions. We are creating the potential to deliver innovative products and services that extend beyond the stand-alone discreet offering, that would be delivered by only having the one organization attempting it into broader collaborative offerings that provide a greater customer experience. Complexity is on the rise, offering discrete products is on the wane. Value is in the connecting of experience.
We are creating the potential to deliver innovative products and services that extend beyond the stand-alone discreet offering, that would be delivered by only having the one organization attempting it into broader collaborative offerings that provide a greater customer experience. Complexity is on the rise, offering discrete products is on the wane.
Have you asked why are business ecosystems emerging as a real competitive force?
As we begin to open up our thinking and begin to focus on the concept of ecosystems, it will increasingly have a powerful effect on our future growth perspectives in considering alternatives and possibilities. The network of different partners will all contribute to this often ‘emergent’ thinking and will very quickly increase the total sum of the value, the ‘combination effect’ will bring to the ‘party’. Diversity in innovation is a powerful catalyst.
The single industry and business-specific approach are seeing change, many companies are exploring the value of becoming involved in a business ecosystem that crosses a variety of industries to build new communities that have the capacity to transform existing environments.
A whole new battlefield of connecting
One has to recall the “battle of devices has now become a war of building the better ecosystem.” It is not one single product that is chasing in crowded, highly competitive fields. We are looking to increase the share of minds, engagement, offer increasing preferences that are reflecting these changing habits, tastes, and lifestyles. To plugin to achieve this ‘paradigm shift’ the search is on for forming the ecosystem or set of ecosystems that can deliver on this ‘transformation’ going on in front of our eyes.
To plug into achieving this ‘paradigm shift’ the search is on for forming the ecosystem or set of ecosystems that can deliver on this ‘transformation’ going on in front of our eyes that works for us. We can’t afford to wait, we must experiment, explore and extract different learnings from our own involvement. Standing back never wins the race, it only relegates you to being a bystander and to achieve any successful innovation outcome demands engagement and involvement.
Can you imagine working with Innovation Ecosystems and Platforms?
Just imagine each silo has to plug into the same platform to engage, build into and extract. Visibility quickly rises; collaboration becomes increasingly the order of the day. Through the cloud, platforms and across business application, all are operating on the same operating system, not multiple versions, waiting for IT and budget justification to update.
The engagement becomes where and when the network and collaboration parts grow in importance, as it feeds into and lives off of others making a living, engaging ecosystem, where mutual dependency generates a greater ‘return’.
Turning from being inwardly driven
You turn from being inward to engaging outward, in all your measurements, metrics, and rewards. ‘Reacting and responding’ becomes more central to employee incentive to pay against as “the effectiveness measure” needed today falls away replaced by ways to accelerate the essential collaborating need.
You then begin to turn from being inward to engaging outward in all your measurements, metrics, and rewards. ‘Reacting and responding’ becomes more central to employee incentive as you consistently engage and collaborate, building more knowledge and value into the system, This becomes critical criteria to pay and reward in building new value. This becomes “the effectiveness measure” needed today to the essential collaborating need to build upon the ecosystem’s collaborating knowledge.
Consistently being engagement becomes common place
Equally, the ability to have different and more diverse ways of connecting with the customer managed in real-time, in the cloud and on connecting platforms becomes increasingly essential. In collaborations and engagements, we built on evolving knowledge, insight, and understanding, where the data flowing in, from the multiple touch points and deliver back innovation that is more closer to their needs.
Imagine all being captured, understood, personalized and built into a ‘web of understanding’ that drives the insights that generate the next level of innovation.
Then as you build your awareness of the ecosystems of your own business and its capabilities, mix in the customer’s engagement and needs you begin to recognize the value of others, within the design chain, those other stakeholders who are the experts in different parts of the connected need of customers.
We move even faster from ‘dumb devices’ to smart products
‘Dumb’ or discrete products turn into ‘smart’ ones and ‘stand-alone’ products become ‘connected platform solutions’ that those within the ecosystem jointly work upon, as they extend the potential through technological and innovative change. Through this collaborative work they extend out in surprising new ways, feeding of the diversity within the ecosystem, so the customer experience goes way beyond what is established today, it captures their imaginations and quickly becomes their choice, as it connected parts that make the job or need easier than before.
Increasingly the value is residing in this complex web of collaborations, working towards delivery of seamless experiences, made up of multiple brands building constantly on what they are learning in the ongoing engagements.
A pipe dream or our beckoning reality – your choice?
We are witnessing the connecting of technology, people and things in dramatically different ways. The recognition that moving towards the goal of providing ‘customer seamless experience’ lies in leveraging across platforms, ecosystems, different vested parties and working to align all of what this means in open, collaborate ways.
In making the customer the center of the focus, so by connecting, relating and deepening their experience, the value in return is greater than what one individual organization can offer today, as it stays part of a disconnected process, locked in a narrow ecosystem that ‘forces’ the customer to connect their parts they need, instead of offering solutions they can connect and value, as it makes their lives easier and more seamless.
It is hard, demanding and risky work, working on solutions that customers unmet needs. The rewards are not crystal clear, they evolve through experimentation and dialogue.
No one is suggesting this is an easy journey, far from it
I do believe we all need to embrace and explore platforms, join different ecosystems and push harder to relate more to real customer needs. I believe it will make a difference to our ability to deliver innovation that can have a real impact in totally different ways than we are capable of delivering today. Of course, you can be the ‘lucky one’ or exceptional. that ‘hit’ the mother lode of innovation growth but these are very few, for most of us, we need to travel the harder route towards discovery, step by organized step.
The end result we all are needing to deliver in innovating solutions is to find distinctly different ones. Increasingly these will come from being in highly connected ways, that are built from contributions from a broader ecosystem of vested parties, offering solutions that are really different, ones that really can add value and meets customer needs.
Welcome to the transforming world of Innovation Ecosystems and platform delivery systems, it offers our new innovation era. I do suggest you explore this dedicated site, (see the link below) it offers a growing source of insights and knowledge that will give you a real value in relating to the changes going on all around us, and attempting to solve the questions we need to answer on how you are shaping up to participate in this different era of innovation.
For more from our co-collaboration, see Two Authors – Diverse Opinions: Recapping our ecosystem and platform thoughts
image credit: europarl.europa.eu
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Paul Hobcraft runs Agility Innovation, an advisory business that stimulates sound innovation practice, researches topics that relate to innovation for the future, as well as aligning innovation to organizations core capabilities. Follow @paul4innovating