customer centricity, analytics, business planning, strategic planning, strategic marketing, dashboards, dashboards, market research, customer centricity, planning, strategic planning, strategic marketing, dashboards, strategy, growth, insights, ecosystem map, ecosystem, business growth, competitive landscape competitive landscape, ecosystem map ecosystem map ,growth, growth market landscape

Imagine the business world as an intricate puzzle, with each piece representing a different participant in the business community: prospective and existing customers, suppliers, channel partners, influencers and connectors, and competitors. Just as solving a puzzle requires fitting the pieces together, businesses can strategically connect the dots of their ecosystem to create a comprehensive picture of growth and success. In this episode of What’s Your Edge? we’ll explore how deciphering the ecosystem puzzle lies in using what we call the Ecosystem Map to;

  • Gain insights into the market and competitive landscape
  • Reveal new growth opportunities
  • Unleash the full potential of your business

The concept of a business ecosystem first appeared in the May-June 1993 Harvard Business Review article, “Predators and Prey: A New Ecology of Competition by James Moore. Moore said, “In a business ecosystem, companies co-evolve capabilities around a new innovation: they work cooperatively and competitively to support new products, satisfy customer needs, and eventually incorporate the next round of innovations.” Moore revolutionized the way we perceive competition and collaboration in the corporate world.

In a business ecosystem, companies are not just competitors; they are players with unique roles and interconnections. Like diverse species in a thriving ecosystem, companies have distinct capabilities and roles, and they rely on each other for survival and growth. For example, in the smartphone industry, app developers, device manufacturers, operating system providers, and telecom companies form a complex ecosystem where their success is interlinked.

According to McKinsey, “… ecosystem building is a critical pathway to build growth and resilience, with close to 50 percent of resilience leaders pursuing ecosystem strategies.” By understanding your ecosystem, you can co-evolve and interact cooperatively and competitively to support innovation, meet customer needs, and drive growth.

dashboards, market research, customer centricity, planning, strategic planning, strategic marketing, dashboards, strategy, growth, insights, ecosystem map, ecosystem, business growth, competitive landscape competitive landscape, ecosystem map ecosystem map ,growth, growth market landscapeThe 5 Best Steps to Solve the Ecosystem Puzzle 

To solve the business ecosystem puzzle you must understand the complex interplay among the various participants. Just like a puzzle coming together to form a captivating image, the business ecosystem map reveals an intricate web of relationships, dependencies, and untapped potential waiting to be explored.

Mapping your business ecosystem is essential because it provides a comprehensive understanding of your position in the market, relationships with customers, key competitors, potential partners, and critical connections. By mapping your ecosystem, you can gain insights into strategic opportunities, expected and unexpected competitors, and potential new partners. Ecosystem maps guide businesses to confidently allocate their precious resources and fast-track their success.

Emptying a box of puzzle pieces on the table and trying to piece it together without knowing what you’re creating can be done, but it is far easier if you work from a picture and have a methodology.  Whether a small puzzle or one comprised of thousands of pieces, we can follow the strategies for solving a jigsaw puzzle to create the ecosystem map.

According to the Jigsaw Puzzle Guru, “one of the most popular and effective strategies for getting started with a jigsaw puzzle is to first sort through and assemble the edge pieces and then sort the pieces by color. Let’s use the same process to create your ecosystem map.

dashboards, market research, customer centricity, growth, business planning, strategic planning, strategic marketing, dashboards, success, strategy, dashboards, market research, customer centricity, planning, strategic planning, strategic marketing, dashboards, strategy, growth, insights, ecosystem map, ecosystem, business growth, competitive landscape competitive landscape, ecosystem map ecosystem map ,growth, growth market landscapeFollow these five basic steps.

1. Define the boundaries of your ecosystem. Identify the key players, including competitors, suppliers, current and prospective customers, partners, and other stakeholders. Consider both direct and indirect competitors to get a holistic view.

2. Assemble the puzzle. This step often requires conducting research and collecting data. Gather data from internal and external sources to understand the roles and interdependencies of ecosystem players. If primary research is not an option, consider secondary research such as analyst report, and leveraging your customer advisory board. Then take these three steps using the data, customer feedback, industry trends, and competitor strategies.

a.  Sort out the primary members of your ecosystem. If you’re new to ecosystem mapping, we recommend your puzzle edges include the following categories: customers and buyer types, suppliers and partners, industry connectors and influencers, and direct and indirect competitors.

b. Sort each of the primary members into their appropriate group. For example, direct competitors in one group, indirect competitors in another, types of decision makers in one group of customers and types of recommenders in another, types of channel partners, trade show association in one group of connectors and analysts in another, and so on.

c. Stick with the jigsaw strategy. Choose a corner and steadily work out methodically from that corner. You want to have as complete a group of participants for each corner as possible.

3. Spot Opportunities. Identify key connections and relationships.

a.Business planning, customer centricity, customer loyalty, dashboards, analytics, market research, dashboards, market research, customer centricity, planning, strategic planning, strategic marketing, dashboards, strategy, growth, insights, ecosystem map, ecosystem, business growth, competitive landscape competitive landscape, ecosystem map ecosystem map ,growth, growth market landscape Draw lines between your organization and your existing customers, partners, and connector relationships. Based on what you know, also draw lines between your existing customers and the influencers and connectors. Who is connected to influences and connectors that you are not?

b. Arm yourself with research and do the same for existing and prospective customers for each connector. Look for potential partners, complementary offerings, and areas for collaboration.

c. Use the research to then draw lines between competitors, customers, and connectors. Understand the strategies and capabilities of your competitors. Which competitors are also connected to your existing and prospective customers, existing and potential partners, and so on. Identify their strengths and weaknesses, potential threats, and areas where you can differentiate yourself.

4. Create a visual representation of your ecosystem map. Use tools like flowcharts, network diagrams, spider charts, or mind maps to illustrate the relationships and interactions between ecosystem players.

5. Validate and optimize your map. Involve key stakeholders, including customers and partners, in validating and optimizing the ecosystem map. Their insights and feedback will help refine the map and make it more accurate. This is an ideal opportunity to engage your customer advisory board.

You’ve finished the puzzle and in doing so have created the ecosystem map that provides you with a view into the interplay among all the ecosystem members.

Ecosystem Mapping for Insights into Expand and Defend Strategies 

Companies recognize the need to implement new business models to grow. According to Accenture Strategy research, 60 percent of executives say ecosystems are the way to do it.

The key is to use your ecosystem map to identify new opportunities and potential threats to your market position. For example, is there a way to leverage a market niche strategy? Are you at risk in any of your vertical markets? Are there opportunities with partners to diversify? Is there an opening for a land-grab strategy?

Here are five ways the Ecosystem Map holds the key to unlocking untapped potential and growth opportunities,dashboards, market research, customer centricity, planning, strategic planning, strategic marketing, dashboards, strategy, growth, insights, ecosystem map, ecosystem, business growth, competitive landscape competitive landscape, ecosystem map ecosystem map ,growth, growth market landscape reducing investment risk, and expanding your competitive advantage:

  1. Brings clarity to the overall business landscape and insights into the interdependencies within the ecosystem.
  2. Reveals opportunities to enhance collaboration, develop new partnerships, engage new customers, and create innovative solutions.
  3. Identifies key connectors that can lead to avenues for expansion and new customer opportunities. For example, an e-commerce platform might use an ecosystem map to identify potential suppliers and logistics partners to expand their product range and reach new markets.
  4. Spots gaps in competitors’ positions and anticipates and counters competitors’ moves and strategies. For instance, a software company might use an ecosystem map to identify areas where its competitors have a stronger presence and develop strategies to defend their market share.
  5. Highlights untapped markets, customer needs, and strategic alliances waiting to be explored.

The completed puzzle reveals a path to success, with all the pieces fitting together to form a harmonious and strategic landscape. Just as a puzzle captivates with its final image, the Ecosystem Map captivates with its potential for growth, innovation, and sustainable success.

The Remarkable Power of Ecosystem Mapping

The power of ecosystem maps lies in their ability to reduce investment risks, optimize growth opportunities, and facilitate collaboration among ecosystem players. The puzzle awaits. With the Ecosystem Map in hand, you can piece together a future of success, strategically navigating the complex business landscape and reveal the full potential of your ecosystem.

Have questions about how to create or navigate your ecosystem map?  We have great answers.

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