16. May 2019

Ecosystems – the competitive arena of the future?


Ecosystems // The next stage in the competition for customers is about
to get underway: Which providers will be able to offer the much-vaunted
customer experience and thereby focus on customer needs?

Technological support is set to make inroads into our daily lives, even in more complex fields. For example, it is foreseeable that customers will receive more individual and more comprehensive support on their house-buying journey – from the search for a home right through to moving-in day. The business model of banks – the provision of mortgages – is no longer sufficient. Ecosystems are the answer for cross-company and cross-sectoral solutions of this type: They are orchestrated by one central company and facilitate the delivery of a comprehensive, integrated offering from a range of providers of cross-sectoral partial solutions. Thanks to technology, these can be flexibly and dynamically adapted to the situational requirements of each customer. The result for the customer: house buying as a service. Innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence or distributed ledgers are often regarded as a prerequisite for ecosystems. These technologies will be able to provide even better support for ecosystems in the future. However, the challenge in developing ecosystems does not lie primarily in the technology, but rather in the need to assemble and combine all the partial services into an optimum customer experience.

New sales and organisational skill sets required
Ecosystems are not founded on today’s competition-oriented principles. Instead, they call for new competencies, which will have to be acquired and put to the test:

• Customer centricity: Ecosystems are formulated in terms of customer needs. Providers align themselves with these needs in such a way that a complete, dynamic solution entirely tailored to the customer journey is the result.

• Cross-sectoral: Customer needs don’t respect sector boundaries. There is a need to develop cross-sectoral knowledge, which can then be combined with the expertise of service providers from other sectors.

• Coopetition: Ecosystems are more than just a marketplace. Individual services need to interface with overarching governance and integration mechanisms with customer benefits in mind.

• Ecosystem mindset: Thinking in terms of ecosystems stands in clear contrast to classic product-centred approaches. Employees must be introduced to this way of thinking, and management systems must be adapted.

• Collaboration: Ecosystems call for more than just static cooperation agreements and SLAs. It’s all about being able to react together and rapidly to changing requirements and developing ecosystems further together.

• Open systems: Cross-sectoral collaboration and dynamic customer needs are ushering in an age of modular, interoperable special-purpose systems. Openness and the capacity to integrate are the key preconditions. The next generation of competition will be focused on value Competition today, which is focused almost exclusively on price, ignores the issue of customer needs. Competition tomorrow will take place much further forward in the value chain, namely at the point where banks are at present still confident of their advice business. This, in turn, means that ecosystems will by no means only influence the business of finance. Does that sound too futuristic? Just take a look at Helvetia’s HOME ecosystem. Close at hand – and right here in the financial industry.

Dr. Michael Fischbach
Dr. Michael Fischbach

Michael Fischbach (34) gained his PhD in Business Information Systems from the Universities of Leipzig and St.Gallen. He has over ten years’ experience as a strategy and technology consultant, and focuses in particular on company architectures, from the business model through to IT