It is not products that determine future success, but rather ecosystems

In the future, companies will not only be measured by products, but also by a new digital value stream.

Companies can continue to optimize their value creation and their own performance for the customer in the future in a way that results in an optimal customer experience. Digital ecosystems with a multitude of connections and data streams will be the basis for business relationships and production facilities, but also for marketplaces and service providers. Even business models that are yet to be created are only made possible by platforms and ecosystems, whether they are software-based services that add value to a product such as an electric car, or shareconomy models. This gives rise to a new digital value stream which, in addition to the known material and financial flows, must be thought about across company boundaries – beyond the companies own factory gate, so to speak.

45 percent of the surveyed companies see digital platforms as an opportunity. More than half have a platform strategy. (Bitkom)

Data streams will shape business

But such digital ecosystems are usually not the core competence of companies, especially if they are not technically oriented industries. Larger corporations are already clearly feeling the demands of their business partners for interfaces and cloud solutions. On the other hand, classic mid-sized production companies, which earn their money with the know-how and products that they have stood for for decades in many cases, will only gradually face this situation.

But especially the manufacturing SMEs, whose business has been running successfully for years and continues to run even during the pandemic, should not risk losing out through a steady "business as usual". Rather, they should be prepared for the fact that in the future it will no longer be sufficient to think in terms of individual products or processes. Instead, it will be necessary to think in terms of solutions and to generate solutions that are relevant to their business partners.

Inventory and basic considerations

To do this, the company must outline in the first approach the nature of its own ecosystem, how the supply chain and the customer portal are connected and networked, how to work with partners at the infrastructure level, and much more. In the second step, a solution must be found that best and most comprehensively supports their own digital ecosystem. In the future, every company will have to regularly check whether it already has such prerequisites and identify suitable partners to ensure the relationship and the continuous, consistent data exchange with the aforementioned players in the future with the required complexity.

Everything from a single source or a customized mix

Two strategies for creating digital ecosystems will be possible here: A public cloud infrastructure could be enough for many companies, such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud or Amazon AWS or the alternative European providers. Each of these systems offers a variety of services that can be implemented and used. Each of these cloud worlds also has its strengths and weaknesses, its special focus and its own character.

However, it will not remain that way in the long term, especially for larger corporations, but in many cases also for mid-sized companies, when a larger number of actors must be involved. This requires a multi-cloud strategy that can respond optimally to the circumstances. In this case, the company can cherry-pick from the individual clouds and operate its business model as an “à la carte” operation, so to speak (as opposed to a set menu with a handful of choices). In addition, every company that does not start from scratch has an established IT strategy and already has grown structures.

It is precisely these strategic decisions in digital consulting that require, on the one hand, the company’s trust in the consultant and, on the other hand, a service provider who provides the company with the most suitable solutions through a neutral approach. This service provider should be agnostic and independent of commissions and have established cooperation with numerous partners. Such a variety of possibilities ensures that a company gets the right solution with different building blocks or modules. Especially in the field of IT security and data protection, a partner with a focus on German and European solutions can be a good choice.

Setting the course for future cooperation today

The IT infrastructure that a company has today can often only map a part of what a modern value chain requires. But in the future, the digital customer experience in particular will have a say in whether a customer becomes and remains a customer at all. Every company should proactively try to meet these complex requirements in the best possible way.

Digital ecosystems and digital platforms will contribute to changes in the economy and society in a variety of ways. They offer the chance to make disruptive changes with new business models. (Source: Fraunhofer)

Digital ecosystems - a few definitions

Digital Ecosystem

A digital ecosystem, despite the name, never includes exclusively digital, technical systems. Rather, it is about organizations and people, as well as their relationships with each other. In addition to software and hardware systems, users, companies, their partners and employees are always involved.

Digital Platform

A digital platform is the technical implementation of a digital ecosystem in an IT environment. It is the technical core. The features of the digital platform can include orders, payment processing, reviews complaints and much more.

Technology Platform

These in turn form the basis for building digital platforms on it. For example, a cloud solution can provide a technology platform to develop and operate applications on a digital platform.

Platform Companies

Companies that offer services based on IoT technologies and data-driven business models such as Airbnb, Uber, Spotify or Ebay. Sales are not generated from the company's own products, but via services, subscriptions or pay-per-use business models.

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