First, a firm must identify a keystone contribution, some element or activity it can uniquely own and control that is essential for the ecosystem to create value for customers.
More companies are starting to recognize that developing a vibrant ecosystem of partners across industries is essential for accelerating innovation and withstanding disruption. Partners can share new technologies and knowledge, open up new routes to market, and help create new business models.
But it isn’t enough to get an ecosystem up and running; you also need a way to sustainably monetize it.
IBM learned this back in the 1980s with its personal computer business. Its IBM PC-compatible architecture became the framework used by other companies specializing in hardware and software for delivering powerful, low-cost computing to users. But despite leading the emergence of this ecosystem, IBM failed to extract a sustainable stream of profits for itself, and sold the business to Chinese computer maker Lenovo in 2005.
By Arnoud de Meyer & Peter J. Williamson
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