Expand and Defend with Ecosystem-based Strategies

The concept of an ecosystem comes from the fields of biology and ecology. It describes how living and nonliving entities such as plants, animals, microbes, air, water and soil interact with each other. These communities that exist in nature can also be applied to 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 defines a “business ecosystem” as:

“An economic community supported by a foundation of interacting organizations and individuals—the organisms of the business world. The economic community produces goods and services of value to customers, who are themselves members of the ecosystem. The member organisms also include suppliers, lead producers, competitors, and other stakeholders. Over time, they coevolve their capabilities and roles, and tend to align themselves with the directions set by one or more central companies. Those companies holding leadership roles may change over time, but the function of ecosystem leader is valued by the community because it enables members to move toward shared visions to align their investments, and to find mutually supportive roles.”

Business ecosystems like their natural counterparts are dynamic and are about interdependencies – where potential connections exist or can be formed between suppliers and customers. Every company exists within at least one ecosystem. To be able to take advantage of an ecosystem or enter a new one you need a map. An ecosystem map provides a way for an organization to identify market and customer opportunities where they can expand and grow, what and who might thwart or help their efforts, and where they may be facing risk.  This map or model serves as an excellent strategic tool. It helps you understand your position in the market, who and where are the competitors and potential partners keep tabs on what’s happening in the market, and where and with whom you should place your valuable resources: attention, energy, and money.

Map Your Ecosystem to Identify market opportunities and gaps.

To take advantage of an ecosystem or enter a new one you need a map.

Armed with the map, you can begin to identify leverage points and gaps, best option for growth, what capabilities you will need to enter the ecosystem, and develop a “go-to-market” strategy.

Make Your Ecosystem Map Your Strategic Tool

Mapping an ecosystem takes data. Making your map strategic takes analysis. This is where you can take advantage of our expertise and experience.

  • Framing up the ecosystem.
  • Acquiring the data to complete the map.
  • Analyzing the ecosystem to identify areas for growth, leverage points and gaps, opportunities to create value and a competitive advantage, and competitors and partners.
  • Developing a “go-to-market” strategy to enter the ecosystem.

Ecosystem mapping is a collaborative effort and a project-based engagement. These engagements typically entail five primary steps: defining the ecosystem and players, an on-site working session to frame up the initial map, data collection to complete and validate the map, map analysis and strategy development, and an action plan.  Let’s have a conversation about mapping yours.



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"I love your articles and advice - I feel like everything you write is thought-provoking and actionable."

-Marcie, Marketing Director, Technology industry

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