In a world that is increasingly becoming more connected, only businesses that leverage the emerging ecosystems can stay relevant. Digital disruption is pervasive, underlining the importance of creating an optimal environment that not only facilitates technological innovation, but also empowers human potential to flourish.
To deliver top user experience and engagement, enterprises need to first understand the functioning of connected ecosystems. Does it start with building cross-functional teams? Can it help business processes to be intertwined with partners and customers across geographies and time zones?
Decoding the ecosystem
An ecosystem, simply put, is a community of organisms interacting by competing, collaborating, and co-evolving in order to survive and thrive. Enterprises in today’s interconnected world are very similar to such a community of organisms.
No enterprise can afford to be an island. To survive and thrive, it has to be a part of the business ecosystem that is constantly evolving, thanks to new technologies and fresh challenges. Rather than focusing on events and problems, enterprises need to look at a holistic, systemic framework based on systems thinking. In other words, an ecosystem is more than the sum of its parts.
And every enterprise exists in multiple ecosystems. Understanding the interconnectedness and interdependencies of these dynamic networks of entities is fundamental to success in today’s business scenario.
Interconnections and Interdependencies
The Interconnected Era has replaced the Information Age, finds an interesting survey conducted in Ireland by Equinix, Inc. As more organizations seek to digitally transform their businesses processes to remain competitive, interconnectedness becomes more and more important.
Interconnectedness can mean different things in different situations. Nevertheless, it essentially refers to the manner in which a group of objects interact with one another to form a complex whole that operates as a system. Such as the Internet of Things (IoT), for instance, which Gartner predicts will grow to over 20 billion connected things by 2020.
Interconnected ecosystems are based on complex interdependences and interrelationships. The biggest challenge for enterprises is to successfully manage these equations such that they help scale the business and drive innovation.
Here are four simple, yet effective ways to ensure that your organization gets the interconnection and interdependence mantra right:
Connected ecosystems come with their own set of challenges – from interdependencies involving multiple stakeholders to conflicting viewpoints and performance issues. The biggest culprit, experts concur, is poor communication.
The key to effective collaboration is collective situational awareness in real time. Communication channels need to be open across departments and teams so that there is real-time exchange of ideas and progress reports. It’s the formula to recognizing small slips in time so that they don’t escalate into a crisis and hurt business. The key is to seek – and incorporate – constant feedback from clients, customers as well as employees to create systems that drive better outcomes across the enterprise.
Invest in people
How can organizations recruit and retain top talent? How can enterprises best serve the unique needs of a more diverse, informed and knowledgeable workforce? The answer is deceptively simple: By breaking down silos.
It’s difficult for businesses as well as individuals to flourish in a one-size-fits-all environment. To be truly interconnected and interdependent, enterprises need to embrace inclusion as a growth strategy. An inclusive workplace culture promotes cross-silo, cross-functional cooperation that helps maximize human capital to create a more connected ecosystem.
It’s understandable for individual interests to conflict in an interconnected and interdependent ecosystem. For instance, the marketing team may not see the value in a proposal put forth by the product design team. The key is to focus on the common good and not let the system suffer.
According to Elinor Ostrom, the Nobel Prize winner for Economics, trust, along with other factors such as the presence of leadership and the level of knowledge, promotes self-organization for sustainability. The enforcement of reciprocity is also important to help organizations leverage the power of trust. Beyond the bottom line, enterprises need to consider how to contribute to all stakeholders in their ecosystem as well as add value to the system.
Start at the top
Top leaders know that success calls for a strategic integration of technology, information, and business processes. CIOs have a vital role to play, not just in terms of scouting for new technology, but also in accelerating the business ecosystem strategy for growth.
According to Gartner, CIOs have three important functions:
- To proactively reach out to collaborate with business counterparts on how and why to integrate ecosystems to improve the overall corporate strategy.
- To ensure that any customer -, partner-, employee- or supplier-focused applications or solutions being developed today are at least considering these future business ecosystems.
- To make sure to set aside development budget every year for the next five years for the most critical customer-, partner-, employee- or supplier-focused applications, solutions and supporting infrastructure to enable change to reflect evolving ecosystem strategies.
To sum up
In this ever-changing, hyper-connected world, enterprises need to be in tune with new technologies as well as changes in the business ecosystem. Interconnections and interdependencies breed collaborative ecosystems that offer agility and strength for success in business.
From finding new customers to tapping into new sources of data, and improving established business processes, the benefits are myriad. Provided organizations ditch the silo view and myths regarding digital transformation, to look at the big picture. Are you ready?