Sowing the Seeds of Ecosystem Innovation

sowing the seeds of ecosystem innovation

Last Updated on July 5, 2022

In 2018 the Australian Federal Government signed a $1B five-year “Whole-of-Government” agreement with IBM and selected IBM as a technology partner of the Australian government. Through this deal, Australian government agencies could source technology and IT services from IBM “for free” to enable and enhance their business processes using the $1B pool of funds to jump start their programs.

There are various benefits of this arrangement:

  • Ability to enforce compliance of products and services with exact capability requirements.
  • Time-saving for users to evaluate different competing solutions
  • Cost savings through economies of scale
  • Guarantee of quality and consistency of service
  • Attracting more users, expanding the adoption

Today, we’re seeing partner ecosystem orchestrators inspired by this model funding their ecosystem partners to expand their network of co-sell partners to grow revenue together.

Growing the partner ecosystem is a massive challenge for modern partnering organizations. For organizations that act as an orchestrator of the ecosystem, the biggest challenge is attracting and building an active ecosystem of diverse partners that co-create value, co-sell solutions, and harness the power of network effects. Ecosystem orchestrators need to make it attractive for both partners and customers simultaneously to increase the value of the whole ecosystem.

Technology that can empower all partners to collaborate with their peers gives complete visibility to the ecosystem transactions, enables contribution with solutions, and gives partners opportunities to influence ecosystem growth in a shared network with all companies treated as peers to engage with each other regardless of size. 

Modern partnering organizations are moving away from the old model of gold, silver, bronze partnering and categorizing partners by their capabilities, not their size. A partner’s strategic fit and contribution to the proposition are more relevant to the customer and target market than the size of their company. But, how do you ensure that these smaller partners have a level playing field within the ecosystem? 

In one of the most recent examples, Microsoft recently announced that they are doing away with their previous metals-based partner categories in their program. Instead, partners will start at a base membership and qualify as “solutions providers” if they score 70 or more points according to a partner capabilities score (PCS). 

In addition, “ease of doing business” is a critical factor in how companies attract and retain partners in today’s competitive ecosystem landscape.  We recently wrote about how “ease of doing business” is a significant factor in making ecosystems work.

Finally, partner ecosystems that create complementary innovative solutions help buffer organizations against winds of change and challenging economic trends. 

In sum, orchestrators simply need to ensure that the benefits of their ecosystem should always outweigh the cost of subsidizing technology for partners to manage the ecosystem.

Like  the Australian Government model, we’re starting to see orchestrating organizations setting up a pool of funds for their ecosystem partners set aside specifically to buy partner ecosystems enabling technology to automate and streamline co-selling with hyperscalers. Once partners meet qualification criteria, they can leverage the money to buy the technology needed to enable them to do business within the ecosystem efficiently. 

Orchestrating organizations can do the due diligence identifying and contracting with vendors who would provide these technologies. Using the pool of funds, partners are then able to adopt systems and tools to help them manage their partner operations – and drive more revenue together with the orchestrator. The technology platform thus gets standardized across all the partners within the ecosystem, making it more efficient.

Ecosystem Business Management (EBM) platforms are one such technology enabler. These robust solutions help your partner ecosystems achieve their full potential. An EBM platform provides a shared space where your ecosystem partners can come together and benefit from well-organized partnerships. 

It enables ecosystem partners to: 

  • Connect all the CRM systems seamlessly to their partners’, on a shared network, for secure visibility (between partners).
  • Open new paths and possibilities to co-sell, cross-collaborate, and offer value to the customer that they can’t achieve through just their organization’s competencies alone.
  • Drive ecosystem revenue by going beyond company borders and building co-sell partnerships
  • Grow your ecosystem by enabling co-innovation between ecosystem partners for growth and differentiation
  • Track and Measure the ecosystem’s performance. Prioritize the investments and double down on profitable partners

To learn more about these solutions and their capabilities, click here.

Check out our Ecosystem Business Management Principles guide to learn more about the best practices in activating a winning ecosystem.

Nitin Mathur
Senior Product Marketing Manager at WorkSpan. Ex IBM, Motorola and Philips. Writes about technology, business development and partner ecosystems.

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28-Page Ecosystem Maturity Guide and Self-Assessment

Inside You’ll Find:

  • The 5 Ecosystem Maturity stages
  • What stage you are in
  • How to move to higher stages and reap the rewards of a business ecosystem