The future belongs to ecosystem thinkers
Ecosystems and platforms enable greater collaboration and fuel new business models. DataScouts, world’s first Ecosystem Mapping & Monitoring tool, is used by a growing group of partners to advise and consult large and small organisation on how to implement ecosystem thinking.
Enabling sustainable growth through collaboration is at the heart of what we do. We provide evidence of mutually beneficial partnerships by mapping key stakeholders, identifying relationships and monitoring the dynamics of an ecosystem.
I am in the lucky position to meet on a daily basis individuals that build their business strategy around collaboration. They create value through enabling and tapping into collective intelligence. I am excited about the changing mindset and the willingness of our partners to embrace ecosystem thinking, what is still “new and different” for so many organisations.
For many decades companies were focused on building competitive intelligence, growth was about ensuring a large piece of the cake for one self. Today more and more organisations understand that we need new forms of collaboration to find answers to the challenges we face.
Practical steps towards ecosystem thinking
The biggest influence on whether collaboration is possible, and will result in a mutually beneficial outcome is actually in the mindset of the individuals leading the change. So I would like to present a few ideas and practical steps to get you started on how to develop and leverage ecosystem thinking for your organisation.
1. Change your mindset from “what’s in it for me” to “what can we create together that is better for everyone”
The speed of Innovation has drastically changed over the last decades. As innovators, you need to cope with high upfront investment and increasing complexity driven by a more and more interconnected world. To increase your chances to succeed, open up and involve like-minded organisations early on in your R&D and innovation processes.
Take for example our collaboration with Forward Fooding resulting in the FoodTech Data Navigator platform. Forward Fooding had the vision to create a global FoodTech data intelligence platform, to continuously monitor the FoodTech landscape and allow them to uncover trends and relationships in terms of funding, emerging technologies, and new business models. Together we developed the world’s first Data Intelligence platform for the AgriFoodTech industry. Our collaboration with Forward Fooding has at the same time enabled us to develop our vision of a generic AI-enabled market and competitive intelligence platform which can be fully configured for each specific use case.
2. Embrace the outside-in perspective
In ecosystem thinking, the focus of attention shifts from inside-out to outside-in. If you want to stay ahead of your market, you can’t just rely on your own internal knowledge and resources.
Today no one knows it all, no one can predict the future (yet). Innovation is happening at a pace we have never seen before. But you can sharpen your awareness of what is happening around you: build sensing capabilities and systematically monitor what is happening in your market.
Bringing the outside in leads to the discovery of totally new concepts, ideas and technologies. Continuous monitoring leads to instant insights. Technology partnerships allow you to learn, experiment and be an early adopter of new technologies. Collaborating with experts allows you to learn and significantly shortens your development time.
3. Be curious and discover new opportunities
It takes courage, perseverance and a lot of curiosity to tackle the challenges ahead, to know where you want to get without having the answer of how to get there.
Be curious and open-minded. Conduct Research. Ask questions. Be genuinely interested in learning and understanding. Engage in new opportunities and enabling connections that go way further than a short term “what can you do for me now.”
Building an enabling ecosystem doesn’t happen overnight.
Some contacts are just LinkedIn connections or peers you meet at events for many many years before the time is right to jump on a call and discuss an opportunity to collaborate. But without the relationship in the first place, you wouldn’t be able to tap into synergies and joint capabilities.
Learning, experimenting and innovating together speeds up the learning curve and results in better solutions with a higher fit for purpose and faster time to market. In terms of strategy, this requires a mindset shift from control, entry barriers, and differentiation to an open mindset, enabling partnerships and valuable collaborations.
Ecosystem thinking starts with understanding the nuances of collaboration, with respect for people and processes and with a common vision of the greater good, a pathway towards a mutually beneficial outcome.