Take, for example, a pension ecosystem; salary contributions are paid into an employee’s pension, that transaction travels around the business ecosystem, through the employer’s finance team or their outsourced payroll firm, the company’s bank, the pension provider and sometimes via the intermediary that sold the scheme to the employer. All of this is done through a complex web of data, money, people relationships and technology systems.
Business ecosystems are creators of value. Value is created and flows because of the deployment of services. So, if you want to increase the value created, improve and innovate the design of these services. However, this requires refocusing from outcomes for individual businesses to ‘ecosystem thinking’ and creation of value for all entities in the ecosystem. This mindset implies a different approach to ecosystem leadership.
Some of the benefits of ecosystem thinking
The simple answer is that ‘thinking ecosystem’ is challenging, given the complexity and often conflicting interests within B2B ecosystems. Such systems can be characterised as lacking the data, and often the incentives, to collaborate and work towards mutually beneficial goals. However, while challenging, the benefits are tangible and proven.
Engine Founder, Joe Heapy and Elisabeth Osta, a Visiting Fellow at the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, have assembled a practical and accessible approach aimed at unlocking value within B2B ecosystems through a consideration of ecosystem services. With this approach, organisations can design new or optimised value-added services and realise positive outcomes for their business, the ecosystem and the end-customer.
A 10-point toolkit:
TOOL 1: Visualising the ecosystem as a network of customers and suppliers.
TOOL 2: Visualising actors and roles.
TOOL 3: Characterising the ecosystem players and their roles using ‘Design Personas’ and ‘Customer Missions’.
TOOL 4: Understanding value relationships and flows of value across a B2B ecosystem.
TOOL 5: Understanding the current services delivered by the ecosystem for end-customers using journey mapping.
TOOL 6: Spotting new service propositions and building a value-creating network.
TOOL 7: Spotting points of failure in the flows.
TOOL 8: Stress testing and enhancing reliance.
TOOL 9: Prioritising and sizing opportunities inside and outside the organisation.
TOOL 10: Redesigning roles for humans in the new ecosystem services.
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