Last Updated on August 20, 2019
Everyone is talking about ecosystems—including those in the boardroom. Ecosystems have become a key strategy for businesses looking to stay relevant through ongoing marketplace disruption and drive growth and innovation.
In fact, according to an Accenture survey of C-level professionals, 76% of business leaders agree current business models will be unrecognizable in five years—and ecosystems will be the main change agent.
And these business leaders aren’t wasting time—84% of those surveyed said ecosystems were important to their strategy of disruption & 52% say industry innovation is a great threat from competitors forming ecosystems.
Doing nothing is costly—in future years, 30% to 70% of revenue is predicted to flow through ecosystems, and without a strategy in place to leverage partner relationships, businesses will find themselves missing out on significant revenue.
The Rise of Modern Business Ecosystems
Ecosystems are the cornerstone of growth. Not only are executives thinking about ecosystems as a strategic advantage, but they’re also thinking about them as a potential threat as competitors move in and form their own ecosystems.
This is a dramatic shift in the marketplace from even five years ago, and many business analysts are including ecosystem growth in their projections for the coming years.
Accenture, IBM, Gartner research, BCG, etc. are also resonating with the beat of the advantages and industry shift being created by the ecosystems.
Gartner has even created a new category in its market guide for partner ecosystem platforms to set it apart from traditional partner relationship management (PRM) software. Partner Ecosystem Platforms are fundamentally different from PRMs and partner portals of the past, which simply aren’t built to manage new partner dynamics.
WorkSpan was also named Gartner Cool Vendor for 2019 stating that it solves the management problem that has been on top of the mind of many technology service providers that have started to form ecosystems with partners.
Partnership models are innovating. Companies aren’t just competing on a local level; they’re also competing globally. And, as new organizations prepare to go to market, or even as established businesses prepare to enter new markets, they’re realizing they can’t go it alone. The pace of technology change and the complexity of many industries is outpacing the resources available to companies—talent and capital are finite, and tapping into an ecosystem gives greater access to both.
It’s not just the pace of technology that’s driving change, either. Today’s consumers are savvier than ever. They want holistic solutions, not just products, and they want a business model that’s centered on them and their needs. And while an organization may not have all the products or solutions in house, ecosystems allow them to find the right partner with the right solution for their customers.
The model is changing, we are seeing the transition from partner focused model to customer faced model because, by the end of the day, it’s all about the customer.
How Top Performers Set Themselves Apart
The organizations that are getting ecosystems right, the top performers, are differentiating themselves from the competition in some key areas:
- They rapidly innovate with solutions beyond their own intellectual property.
- They have an external mindset focused on the end-user.
- They practice partner interdependence and validation and lean into data to understand new customer needs and wants.
- They’ve achieved interoperability across teams with one source of truth and trust-building.
- They have repeatable methodology without having to relearn strategies or best practices for new regions and partners.
However, achieving these outcomes is nearly impossible without the right tools and the right platform. Many executives, though eager to reap the benefits of ecosystems, have not found the level of growth they’ve expected because they’ve encountered some of the same pitfalls that hold back traditional partnerships.
This is why cloud-based solutions such as WorkSpan are key to the disruption of ecosystems as we know them. As many markets and organizations have gone through a digital transformation, they’ve brought their financial, marketing, and sales systems to the cloud. They’re relying on data and now understand better than ever how their marketing campaigns, sales motions, and other decisions are driving revenue and building ROI. And, this transformation is now coming to partnerships and ecosystems.
3 Keys to Success in Boosting Market Expansion
We’ve written before about the five value indicators of successful ecosystems: they grow revenue, boost market expansion, assemble holistic solutions, accelerate time to market, and develop trust. Each of these values is integrated with each other. For example, using your ecosystem to boost market expansion will naturally lead to growing your revenue. When thinking specifically about how ecosystems can boost market expansion, we keep these three principles at the top of mind:
1. Set tangible goals. Ecosystem platforms provide visibility and clarity to see and monitor your business. When you remove roadblocks such as manual processes and spreadsheets and replace them with up-to-date, rich data, you’re no longer relying on a gut feeling. Instead, you can align with your business direction across partnerships and set realistic, tangible goals. Starting small with a few key partners will give you the insight to iterate as you expand to include other partners and bring on new collaborators.
2. Collaborate with your partners. Share the data you need with the partners that need it securely and on a common platform. You’ll no longer run into bottlenecks because you can connect the teams that need to talk directly. As you reach deep into your partner organization, you’ll accelerate the time it takes to seize opportunities and bring your solutions to the market.
3. Co-create innovative solutions. One of your best strategic advantages is the people and the organizations you know. Having partners in your ecosystem who can reach new markets and bring their resources to the table is infinitely valuable. Whether you want to move into new geography, enter new markets, or build new capabilities and solutions, expert partners drive growth, increase efficiency, and provide valuable insight.
As our customers have executed these strategies, they’ve seen dramatic results for their business including better alignment to business direction, a 20% to 40% increase in efficiency, and accelerated time to market.
If you’d like to understand more about the best practices to boost market expansion through your ecosystem, watch our webinar available on-demand.
It’s filled with practical solutions from WorkSpan experts Mark Haubry, General Manager of Ecosystem Value, and Chip Rodgers, Vice President of Marketing, and includes valuable insight gleaned from their rich industry knowledge.