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Business ecosystems: sharing visions, values, data and expertise to power partnerships that drive growth

Even in an unpredictable economy, organisations are looking for new growth opportunities and ways to deliver positive change in the most effective way.

At the same time, they are recognising the need to adapt to changes accelerated by the pandemic. For many, the reality is that the channels, platforms, and approaches that have delivered success for so long are no longer fit for purpose. They now need new tools, different skills and evolved products to remain differentiated and find value.

Leaders are turning to next-generation technology - through partnerships and business ecosystems - to balance short-term performance with long-term value, find the right cultural fit for their people, and better connect with customers. In turn, partnering with the right organisations at the right time is helping companies find growth, expand reach, embrace new channels and enter markets, among countless other benefits.

But as they plan for the future, how can they invest in the right partnerships to deliver that growth?

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The right tech

The evolution of the cloud has driven the rapid emergence of a vast ecosystem of technology solutions - from market-leading business applications like Salesforce or Oracle to niche solutions solving specific pain points. But with a landscape that is complex and increasingly crowded, making the right technology choices is fundamental to delivering real results.

The power of the technology ecosystem - like any business partnership - is that it allows participants to create value in several ways, such as seamless transactions across different providers to strengthen the customer experience, or enhancing data-driven decision making to unlock capital. By partnering with the right organisations, ecosystem participants can create a mutually beneficial environment that allows them to better innovate, and create new efficiencies along different value chains.

To participate successfully in this ecosystem, some may need to change the way they think.

By being able to offer products and services they would be unable to create on their own, organisations can use an ecosystem to attract more customers, collect and process more data, and use that data to create better products and services that further improve processes and demand. This soon becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of success.

But what might these ecosystems and partnerships look like? What value do they bring? And what do businesses need to consider when looking to enter into such ecosystems?

The data difference

Already at the heart of many businesses, data is critical. Organisations entering partnerships have the potential to access the power of shared data to create effective, impactful insights that guide collective decision-making. Leaders are thinking beyond their own data sets and recognising the power of their ecosystem to enhance decisions, transform offerings and empower the customer experience.

Within those business ecosystems, sharing data can also help to de-risk business decisions and transactions. The more companies collaborate, the more improvements can be found. Even small improvements across several areas add up to larger advantages.

That ability to think across industries and even across competitors will become essential for driving positive ESG change. Being able to aggregate ESG-related data across organisations to provide a single view of a supply chain will empower businesses and individuals to make informed decisions that will impact our collective future.

Sharing access to data is likely to feel unnatural to organisations that have traditionally safeguarded data heavily. While it may feel uncomfortable early on in a relationship, ultimately the rewards will outweigh any concerns. But it’s essential that all parts of the ecosystem use that data responsibly. That means respecting organisational - and customer - privacy, analysing data properly, making sure it is only ever used in the best interest, and never shared wider than necessary.

Creating the right team and a culture of innovation

Any technology solution needs to be balanced by human ingenuity. As organisations become part of the ecosystem, finding partners with the same values and a shared vision is fundamental to getting this balance right. The key is in understanding the need to bring together the right technology and the right team - that has the right mix of expertise across business, industry, technology, risk, culture and beyond - with an enabling culture of innovation and upskilling. And in partnerships - especially those between technology-led and more traditional organisations - this can take work and investment from both sides to get the balance right.

Understanding each other’s strengths and the bounds in which each is willing to play is key, but the right cultural fit is just as essential in delivering the right results, to give both partners an advantage. The combined cultures must be able to work together. And a clear vision of values and principles to the relationship will ensure this happens.

These relationships founded on shared visions and values also lay the foundations for shared development. With the reality of the technology skills gap, and the accelerated pace of change, organisations need partners who are willing to learn with them. Not necessarily knowing all the answers or having the scale required up front, but being open to innovating and investing together. Whether it’s accessing different talent markets, enabling upskilling of existing teams, or co-investing in the next market-leading industry solution, becoming part of the ecosystem opens up real potential.

Solving problems and delivering growth, together

In a continually changing environment, the ability to call on partnerships with shared visions, values and data to create new and innovative solutions will only increase in importance. While every organisation will pursue different ecosystem strategies, in terms of ambition and scope, even the most conservative of approaches can deliver sustained outcomes. By applying a strategic and considered approach to ecosystems, organisations can unlock almost exponential growth. The right partnerships can expand reach: giving access into new markets, territories, sectors, sales channels and customer segments.

But being able to realise these aims will require a unique combination of teamwork, trust and focus. That means combining the speed, scale and power of technology with precise and extensive human ingenuity and problem-solving, to bring organisations together in unexpected ways and deliver results that make the difference.

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Mark  Moffat

Mark Moffat

CTO and UK & EMEA Technology Consulting Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7974 073221

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