Often when I talk to people about digital ecosystems and connected services like the internet of things (IoT), the biggest challenge is how to get people to have an ecosystem mindset.
In the communications industry, we have a long history of a single company providing everything end to end and research and development (R&D) being run as a competitive sport, meaning closed shops and lots of secrets.
But ecosystems and IoT require something different. New lines of business will generally be about value-added services like smart cities, smart cars, connected factories or e-health, which by definition will not be telco-only services. That’s a brand new concept to many of us.
From intra- to inter-ecosystem
With a history of stakeholders being in an ‘intra-ecosystem’ (based solely within the organization) from various departments like marketing, operations, IT and support in a single company, these connected services will require entirely new approaches. Now you might have city planners, auto companies, manufacturers or hospitals at the table as part of the team (probably not all at the same time!) in an ‘inter-ecosystem’, and that’s a big change.
Think about all the parties that would be involved if you were to launch a connected health service – patients, doctors, nurses, hospitals, device providers, connectivity providers, app providers, insurance companies and someone to coordinate and orchestrate the whole thing.
Most of the non-telco parties will not know or care to know about the technology or connectivity; and the telco people will not know what makes a good connected health service. Hence, it’s necessary to work together.
No one entity can succeed without the others.
Where to start?
So how do you go from the intra-ecosystem to the inter-ecosystem mindset? There are many resources in the market – here are a few ideas and practical steps to get you started:
- Look outside the telco four walls – we all use ecosystem services all the time, from Uber to Airbnb to Amazon. Google the phrase “Company X business model” and read up.
- Read Platform Revolution – this book will open your eyes to how connected companies have created a whole new way to generate value for everyone in an ecosystem.
- Focus on the value every ecosystem participant generates – this is critical because if one stakeholder in an ecosystem is not finding value (making money or saving money), then they won’t stay and the ecosystem can unravel. What if Uber or Lyft drivers felt undervalued and stopped driving? Thinking of every party’s value, not just the end customer’s value is critical in the mindset shift. Check out this HBR article for a couple of interesting examples that also have positive social impacts. The article explains, “Before engaging in a collective-impact effort, each participant has typically viewed the problem at hand solely from its own perspective. By bringing together all the relevant parties and ensuring rigorous data collection and careful facilitation, collective-impact initiatives foster a shared understanding of the problem – the first step toward solving it.”
- Take some training from TM Forum! We have a new Digital Business Ecosystems Fundamentals class that will help you understand ecosystem concepts and get you into the ecosystem mindset.
- Learn about TM Forum’s CurateFx – this tool provides a methodology to define, design and scope ecosystems, all based on TM Forum best practices and models.
Getting to inter-ecosystem thinking is a critical step – come along for the ride! If you’d like more information about how TM Forum can help your company embrace digital ecosystems, please contact me directly via [email protected].