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.
Paul and I have been writing mostly about ecosystems and platforms in the abstract to date, not spending a lot of time talking about specific companies or industries.
We took this approach because we wanted to establish a firm foundation about ecosystems and platforms generally, that wasn’t subject to debate about their applicability to one industry or another.
In the next several posts we will be looking at two diametrically opposed industries and the importance of ecosystems and platforms to both of these industries. Fittingly, I’ll be looking at the importance of innovation in ecosystems and platforms for an “old economy” industry – the railroads, while Paul looks at the importance of platforms and ecosystems in a new economy company – Alibaba.
If ever there is one company in my mind that is at the forefront of building ecosystems, platforms and customer engagement, that is the Alibaba Group.
They are so focused on building the fundamental infrastructure for modern commerce, presently comprising marketplaces, payment. logistics, cloud computing and big data that is ‘collectively’ empowering businesses of all sizes to leverage the internet for their own digital transformation.
So who is Alibaba?
“Alibaba Group is an internet company that aims to make it easy to do business anywhere. Alibaba operates a range of online marketplaces that connects buyers and sellers, with the company providing the technology infrastructure to help merchants, brands and small businesses all over the world reach Chinese consumers. Alibaba’s ecosystem includes e-commerce platforms, cloud computing, digital media and entertainment, payments and financial services, logistics, and local services.”
The recognition that most business organizations are in need to form both new and connect into diverse ecosystems is growing. These are offering the potential of new pathways to a greater ‘connected’ innovation, expected today, one that gives increased value to the consumer.
Yet the understanding of what this means in commitment and structuring has some clear implications behind this. Managing in ecosystem arrangements I feel requires a far greater understanding of the potential design, so you can achieve a more robust, open, dynamic and highly collaborative environment.
Jeffrey and I have argued in previous posts that working in Ecosystems will change the nature of business activities.Let me take four of these:
Ecosystems will have the potential to expand capabilities and enable experiences beyond anything possible today in the present world that most of our business organizations operate in; one’s that are operating in their own ‘disconnected’ world, internally focused, constrained by limited technology connection and resources.
Ecosystems open up the world. They connect it for a richer access to diversity and different sets of discoveries not possible within one organization’s current capabilities or capacities. It is highly collaborative and interactive.
It is by this very nature of opening up and interacting building a growing interdependence in relationships, that is driving the new innovation potential. One, that is looking to create and explore new business value by acting together, that offers a potential for outcomes to be greater than the sum of the individual parts.
As our world becomes more complex, ecosystems offer ways to coalesce around those sort of challenges, that brings together within the ecosystem community the potential to build, solve, share and exchange around goals and concepts that help solve these complexities, achieved in highly collaborative ways.
We presently seem to lack a process of evaluation on what forms the building blocks of ecosystem validation and why entering into one can be significantly different.
Let me offer some thoughts here in a fairly long, rather detailed post that explores six critical parts: Continue reading →