CEO of Phoenix CG We specialize in collaborative business ecosystems to accelerate innovation and develop new markets.
Digital business models are revolutionizing the way leaders do business. This isn’t just a technology industry phenomenon, it’s an industry-wide phenomenon.
Cars 10 years ago have more computing power than mobile phones, so is there any doubt that many industries are heavily dependent on technology? , it becomes clear that Southwest Airlines’ 2022 “holiday meltdown” was actually a technology meltdown.
As you transform to digital business models, your business ecosystem must also transform to implement and sustain these new technologies. In doing so, it becomes strategically dependent on ecosystem alliances.
One of the best practices when developing partnering capabilities is to evaluate them regularly to see where they can be improved and where weaknesses can be reinforced. The same applies to ecosystems, communities of partnerships. However, there are some key differences when assessing the ability to partner within the ecosystem.
There are many partnership assessments that help address partnership capacity on a bilateral basis, but I have yet to see one aimed at assessing capacity and maturity within the ecosystem. To create an assessment along these lines, we looked at Partner Capability Assessments (PCAPs) to see where we fit into the capabilities of the ecosystem and where there might be gaps.
PCAP incorporates the following best practices: of ASAP Alliance Management HandbookIt is often cited as the bible of alliance management among professionals and was developed to align with the ISO 44001 framework for cooperative business relationships. Ultimately, we found that much of the PCAP applies when partnering within the ecosystem, but some fall short.
Differences in assessing ecosystems
I define an ecosystem as an interconnected community of partners. This leads to several different criteria as to how to assess partner relationship maturity and overall capability effectiveness. I’ve often said that it’s not just a one-to-one relationship within the ecosystem. In other words, it’s not just about you. It’s about all our other partners and our ability to work and innovate with them for greater value. It is fueled by network effects, with each new cooperative member adding value to the whole.
Twenty years ago, we might have called channel programs or independent software vendor program (ISV) ecosystems, but they were primitive versions. Interconnection and collaboration were primarily with a central orchestrator, and member interactions were ad-hoc. I believe the key to a mature ecosystem functioning lies in how well we facilitate interconnection, collaboration and value creation among all partners to benefit our mutual customers.
Case Study: Salesforce Platform
Imagine this. You’re a Salesforce ISV, which means you’ve built complementary capabilities integrated into the Salesforce platform. You may have a referral fee calculator. We would like to expand our footprint with other enterprise software integrations such as spiff systems and payment systems. Where to look for these partners and integrations first? Within the Salesforce ecosystem. We also need advisors, system integrators and implementers who can tie it all together. Additionally, these partners should have experience implementing and integrating the Salesforce platform.
Now flip the perspective. What does it mean for Salesforce when a partner is so successful? Bringing more value to the platform makes the ecosystem bigger than the sum of its parts. So how do you measure that force? How do you measure how well you can harness that power and apply it to your business?
This is the next leap in value creation within the ecosystem beyond orchestrators driving one-to-one value. They begin optimizing their members’ ability to find and build the right combination of features to serve their customers and effectively build systems within their ecosystem. Again, the Salesforce ecosystem is a great place to find the partners you need to complete your ecosystem.
Here are some factors for measuring ecosystem maturity:
1. Partners must be able to find each other. They need to be able to quickly understand new features and functionality that can contribute to meeting customer requirements. Do you have a partner directory that is searchable and facilitates communication and collaboration between partners?
2. Evaluate the level of engagement between partners. Are these conversations taking place? Do partners collaborate on customer pursuits and implementations?
3. Identify and track customer solutions resulting from these collaborations. Can you support them with a repeatable sales model that scales their business?
4. Focus on your solution. Make sure your partners are providing the tools and systems that enable customer-centric alignment and collaboration.
5. Measure results and maturity. How are your customers being served by these collaborations? Can you measure the business outcomes they achieve? Measure customer success improvements in retention, retention, upsells, cross-sells, and loyalty Can you do it?
Each of these elements can be qualitatively evaluated in the maturity matrix with 1 to 5 sales.
1. To this. Partnership activity in the ecosystem is unpredictable and passive. Failure rate is high.
2. Limited. The benefits of ecosystem partnerships are evident in individual cases.
3. Foundation. The benefits of ecosystem partnerships are well recognized but not consistently applied.
4. Systematic. Ecosystem alliances are embedded in an organization’s management structure and culture, but they don’t always deliver strategic advantage.
5. Strategic. Ecosystem alliances are prioritized as strategic capabilities and provide competitive advantage in the market space.
By regularly assessing your ecosystem’s ability to partner, you can build this muscle and improve your ability to gain competitive advantage through your business ecosystem. As businesses become more digital, ecosystems become more and more of a strategic asset.
The Forbes Business Council is the premier growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. am i eligible?