Once more commonly referenced in the natural world, the word “ecosystem” is quickly becoming the latest technology buzzword. Only, everyone seems to have a different definition. So, what exactly is an ecosystem? Why should you (and your business) care? And what’s your strategy?

Today, we live in a hyper-connected world full of hybrid this and virtual that. Digital experience is table stakes for most businesses, especially when it comes to consumer expectations and vastly transformed ways of working. In an effort to digitally transform their businesses, organizations across the globe have invested countless dollars in individual platforms. But no man—and no platform—is an island.

While these individual platforms might have extended your capabilities for the time being, this new world brings with it new, complex business challenges that just can’t be solved by a singular provider, solution, or technology. Hence, the ecosystem.

Connect, collaborate, compete

You’re probably familiar with the status quo, a transformed front or back office, a different C-suite buyer for each platform, based on different priorities. It’s a bit like buying all the latest gym equipment but not knowing how to use it properly. Or having the ingredients but no recipe. As an organization, you might have multiple best-of-breed technologies in place, but none of it is connected. So instead of ROI, you’re left with gaps of data and insight along the customer journey, inefficient employee workstreams, and a lack of growth when you thought you’d put all the right pieces into place.

A well-designed ecosystem strategy, on the other hand, can help you not only connect the diverse parts of your business but the numerous hyperscale platforms you’ve invested in. It can enable multifaceted solutions that integrate every customer touchpoint, from sales to finance to service and beyond. A well-designed ecosystem strategy can help you realize new ideas, new growth, new value—and untold new potential.

Ecosystem with a capital E

More complex than a technology implementation, a good ecosystem strategy puts human experience at the center of everything. There are more players, more layers of interaction, and more possible outcomes, because everything needs to work together and do so in real time. Through our depth of experience, we’ve zeroed in on four key considerations of designing a successful ecosystem strategy.

  1. What is the problem you’re trying to solve? Our research shows that in good times and bad, consumers crave empathetic, responsive, relevant relationships with the brands they do business with. Perhaps your organization has made major investments in technology platforms in an effort to improve customer experiences and efficiencies—but are your platforms working together? Are you able to scale them across your organization? Competing on an experience level requires access to, control over, and visibility into all of your data, not a silo in sight.
  2. What are your existing key technology platforms? It’s important to think about the big picture, to understand the platforms and data you’re leveraging across the entire customer journey so that you can better orchestrate them into a more consistent, more human experience. Perhaps you have a great view of your call center data, but if it’s not integrated with your planning, or your sales, or your social interactions for that matter, then it’s not a full picture of your customer—or your business. Identifying every touchpoint will help you zero in on the gaps that a good ecosystem solution can help close.
  3. What is your process for selecting technology platforms? In today’s vast technology market, with many competing technologies, it’s rare that any organization would find a single provider that offers them the best of everything. It’s much more likely that you will bring some combination of industry-leading platforms into your mix, but these platforms won’t naturally connect. A successful ecosystem strategy can help you in selecting platforms that flex to your needs rather than the needs of the technology.
  4. How can these platforms work together to enable your business goals?Identifying your business goals is one thing but building a thriving technology ecosystem that fully supports those goals is another. Organizations that thrive in the constantly shifting digital environment are able to see beyond the technology to pursue shared organizational goals and look for the connections that will elevate experience and ROI.

Build together. Build better.

Whether it’s driven by a shortage of talent, a quest for cost reduction, or the need for growth, many organizations realize that it is increasingly difficult to go it alone. Deloitte Digital helps companies connect the dots to shape more sustainable business futures through ecosystem strategies that bring new to you.

Through our deep, dynamic relationships with many of the world’s leading companies—including Salesforce, Adobe, Snowflake, SAP, Amazon, and NetSuite—and breadth of cross-industry experience, we connect ideas, talent, and the latest technology to help you elevate the human experience, make the most of your investments, and free up critical resources to take your business to the next level.

Ready to connect, collaborate, and compete in groundbreaking new ways? Reach out!

Paul Clemmons, principal, is the Global Leader for Digital Customer and US Customer-led Marketing Ecosystems & Alliances leader. He’s a problem solver with a passion for always doing things better and a champion for equality and helping others succeed at work and in the communities in which we serve.