Innovating like it’s 1999

1999-partyTo borrow a phrase from the musician formerly known as Prince, we are innovating, at least in regards to platforms and ecosystems, like it’s 1999.  This isn’t to suggest innovation is making beautiful music, but to take you back to a specific point in time and think about the conditions.

In the late, late 1990s and very early 2000s, many individuals and corporations were experimenting with ecommerce, learning what the “web” would do to and for commerce.

Thousands of startups obtained billions of dollars in venture capital money to exploit the new idea of e-commerce.  We were assured that this would be the end of brick and mortar stores.  Every industry would be disrupted by the web.  Pet owners would go to, famous for its sock puppet mascots.  The CEO of Accenture would leave his post to become CEO of Webvan, which would revolutionize grocery shopping and delivery.  And so on.

Mostly what happened in that period was a vast blooming of a number of experiments on the web, which led to the “dot com” crash only a few years later and drove many of these startups and some larger, established companies out of business. Most of these crashes happened because no one had figured out how all of this new ecommerce stuff was supposed to work, or because of vague promises of the ability to monetize eyeballs.

New technologies or capabilities will always create a “land rush” of companies, new and established, who seek to stake their claims.  Continue reading

The Building Blocks for Managing within an Ecosystem Design

building-blocks-for-ecosystems-2The recognition that most business organizations are in need to form both new and connect into diverse ecosystems is growing. These are offering the potential of new pathways to a greater ‘connected’ innovation, expected today, one that gives increased value to the consumer.

Yet the understanding of what this means in commitment and structuring  has some clear implications behind this. Managing in ecosystem arrangements I feel requires a far greater understanding of the potential design, so you can achieve a more robust, open, dynamic and highly collaborative environment.

Jeffrey and I have argued in previous posts that working in Ecosystems will change the nature of business activities.Let me take four of these:

  • Ecosystems will have the potential to expand capabilities and enable experiences beyond anything possible today in the present world that most of our business organizations operate in; one’s that are operating in their own ‘disconnected’ world, internally focused, constrained by limited technology connection and resources.
  • Ecosystems open up the world. They connect it for a richer access to diversity and different sets of discoveries not possible within one organization’s current capabilities or capacities. It is highly collaborative and interactive.
  • It is by this very nature of opening up and interacting building a growing interdependence in relationships, that is driving the new innovation potential. One, that is looking to create and explore new business value by acting together, that offers a potential for outcomes to be greater than the sum of the individual parts.
  • As our world becomes more complex, ecosystems offer ways to coalesce around those sort of challenges, that brings together within the ecosystem community the potential to build, solve, share and exchange around goals and concepts that help solve these complexities,  achieved in highly collaborative ways.

We presently seem to lack a process of evaluation on what forms the building blocks of ecosystem validation and why entering into one can be significantly different.

Let me offer some thoughts here in a fairly long, rather detailed post that explores six critical parts: Continue reading

Understanding the Customer Journey is the key to innovating in an ecosystem

evolving-innovation-a-new-formPaul and I have been exploring the interrelationships between innovation, ecosystems and platforms for a few weeks now.

Hopefully we’ve made the point that innovators must expand their horizons, because increasingly customers don’t want or need stand alone, discrete products as much as they want integrated, seamless, holistic solutions.

In fact I think we can easily predict that moderately interesting new innovations that integrate with existing ecosystems and platforms dominate disruptive new products that ignore ecosystems and platforms.

Why?  Customers don’t want to give up all that they have invested in the totality of their use of a solution or the experience when using the solution.  Even if the disruptive product or service delivers outsized benefits, if it causes the rest of the customers’ experience to suffer or degrade, many will choose to remain on a more integrated solution.

There’s a lot here to unpack. Continue reading

The Dynamism in Chinese Ecosystems and Platforms


Today we have to “think China” when it comes to looking for the dynamism within Ecosystems and Platforms, they are leading, exploring and extending the thinking beyond our more limited ambitions in the West.

It is the environmental conditions coming together or being explored and exploited that make China stand out in its dynamism in this area.

It is that combination effect of the Government building, laying in ‘accepted’ guidelines and encouraging the infrastructure, it is the business entrepreneur and the social conditions that are enabling so much.

Dynamism is the quality of being characterized by vigorous activity and progress. It projects an energy, force, power and vigor and a strong desire to make something happen. It is the manifestation of these forces (conditions) that is constantly pushing the boundaries of our understanding of what is possible in the ecosystem and platform approach. The Chinese have found ways to experiment, develop and constantly create a real motion within the system. Continue reading

The Emerging Industry 4.0 Business Ecosystem

The PwC Industry 4.0 framework

The PwC Industry 4.0 framework

We are moving rapidly from the industrial economy, reliant on single companies simply producing specific products they believe consumers needed or simply accepted.

This approach is often giving consumers no or limited choice and this supply-side approach is about to change into one that is driven by a digital economy where all sides of the value equation are connecting. One where consumers have a greater ‘voice’ over their choice that manufacturers will need to listen to and respond accordingly.

This connected world is driving transformation inside every industry, pushing for innovation dynamism as knowledge exchanges are accelerating.

There becomes this increasing business “commons” of connecting, communicating, seeking manufacturers to collaborate far more closely, across new technology and infrastructures, that allow for a greater ‘economic diffusion’ than ever before.

Industry 4.0 is driving much of this change within industries and emerging are some powerful industrial digital ecosystems such as GE are driving to achieve, to transform their business.

There is a dramatic shift in recognizing where our future assets lie. In the past, it was heavily invested in physical ownership, the knowledge was kept within organizations and this ‘became the competitive advantage. Today that is rapidly disappearing, the knowledge is recognized to lay mostly outside the organization, it is the ‘connected minds’ across multiple stakeholders, that participate through and across new platforms and ecosystems and how these are leveraged and managed is where are looking to gain any new competitive advantage. Continue reading

Innovating with the ecosystem in mind



In our previous posts, we’ve asserted that the reason so many “innovative” new products and services fail is because the innovators fail to understand the circumstances, ecosystems and environments in which the new product must exist.  Even more important to consumers than new features is ease of use, ease of integration, ease of connection.  We call this a holistic, continuous seamless experience.

If seamless experience, as we’ve defined it in previous posts, is the emerging requirement for innovators, then what are the components that construct a seamless experience?  And further, if seamless experiences are so vital, what are the forces that converge to create so much interest in seamless experiences?

If we consider and answer these questions, innovators can see a growing confluence of ecosystems, platforms and patterns of disruption that are combining to create new opportunities.  We can also take a look back at past innovation efforts to see how little we’ve moved the needle in terms of customer engagement and the value that past innovations have created.

With so much in motion, it’s time for a careful consideration of what fuels innovation, what patterns exist and what factors – such as ecosystems and platforms – will combine to create what customers really want:  a continuous, holistic and complete experience. Continue reading