Blockchain and distributed ledgers as innovative platforms

It had to come to this eventually.  The emergence of Blockchain and distributed ledger systems illustrates how innovation is moving from focus on products and services, which are interesting but don’t provide a long-lasting competitive advantage, to a focus on platforms and ecosystems.

Over the last few weeks this need for a lasting competitive shift in focus was emphasized as Ford pushed out its CEO because he wasn’t changing the company fast enough. As discussed in this blog previously, the automotive sector must rethink its competitive position.  Increasingly, people want flexible transportation – from cabs, Uber, public transportation and/or their cars.

The automotive manufacturers (Ford, GM, Fiat, Mercedes, etc) must shift their focus from building physical cars to providing transportation – a shift in thinking and strategy.

In a very similar manner we can see that banking and financial services are moving from offering discrete services (mortgages, loans, checking/savings accounts, etc) and are considering how to either own or integrate with larger platforms and ecosystems, because the older conventions are less attractive to emerging customers and technology is advancing so quickly that soon many different companies and industries can offer banking-like services.

Distributed ledgers and Blockchain may point out a new competitive platform that some firm is going to capitalize on.  For example, we can imagine a time in the not too distant future where a large company that supports and relies on an extended supply chain – the automotive industry for example – could dictate that all of its supply chain participants must interact using Blockchain.  Then we’d have a company spanning, industry wide ERP like platform.  If this sounds crazy, don’t laugh.  The government of Dubai just announced that within five years every entity that interacts with the government must do so using Blockchain.

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Seeing differences between B2C and B2B within Ecosystems and Platforms

Jeffrey wrote a recent post “No walled gardens in B2B platforms” and started with this: “Paul and I have noted throughout our writings on platforms and ecosystems the key differences between companies that interact primarily with consumers (B2C) and companies that interact primarily with other corporations (B2B)”

I wanted to highlight some key differences as a follow-up post and was beginning to work on this when up “pops” a really valuable article by McKinsey “Finding the right digital balance in B2B customer experience”.

Jeffrey and I have championed the idea that customer experience is the ultimate innovation outcome, based on strong ecosystems and platforms so this caught my attention. The article does a good job of focusing the B2B companies to putting customer-centricity and experiences at the heart of their strategy. This offers good advice on the one-to-one model but less on the complications of many businesses working with other business on a two-sided platform of multiple participants

The writers for this McKinsey article, rightly point out the root of the problem is that while the role of customer journeys is central to both B2B and B2C, their incidence and importance are different for B2B and they go on and explain the chief differences.

I’d like to “lift out” these four chief differences McKinsey defines and discuss these more in the multi-sided platform context and ecosystem needs, going beyond the customer experience ones. Continue reading

The Interconnected Parts of an Ecosystem

Credit Katri Valkokari

Now I relate very strongly to different visuals and this happens to be a current favorite of mine. It sums up the differences between the types of ecosystems we need to recognize and work through.

I came across this in a paper by Katri Valkokari, a Research Manager at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland in the Business, Innovation and Foresight research area.

Although it presses a number of buttons for me, the paper seems to have limited the differences shown here and I just want to throw this visual open just a little more, in your ‘need to know’ here and then come back to it later.

What Katri does, is provide a really good contribution into how they differ in outcomes, interactions, even a logic of actions and the different ‘actor’ roles for the three.

A return to thinking Ecosystems and Platforms Continue reading