In the light of digital transformation, ecosystems have emerged as a new way how to collaboratively create value. Successful firms all around the world build and orchestrate ecosystems, to increase value for their customers and themselves. Deriving a strategic advantage of this concept means understanding that value creation does not work anymore in isolation but depends on multiple autonomous, yet interdependent actors, which co-create complementary, modular solutions.
Besides working toward a shared purpose and vision, ecosystems capitalize on modern information and communication technology as enabler of these multilateral relationships. Hence, a joint technological infrastructure often creates unprecedented opportunities to align autonomous firms and catalyze value creation potential, which is predominantly information-based.
We, a cross-disciplinary team of researchers from three universities, summarized the nature of ecosystems along three layers and nine characteristics that—as we believe—are fundamental to understanding how companies can successfully benefit from ecosystems. Real-world examples and testimonials from different industries illustrate our argumentation, showing how practitioners operationalize these nine characteristics.
Building on our characterization of ecosystems, we highly urge you to take advantage of this ongoing shift in technological, social, and business environments by taking the following actions:
- Internalize the new mindset that value creation becomes a community effort
- Embrace digital technologies
- Think in multilateral value creation and capturing
- Create transparency to externals
- Be flexible to adapt and learn
We hope that this white paper will equip you with the tools you need to seize the potential of ecosystems, sparking further interest and discussion.