The 10 Life Areas of the Ecosystem Strategy Map

Written by Julian Kawohl and Denis Krechting

June 1, 2020

The Ecosystem Strategy Map is our central tool to help business leaders navigate ecosystems with ease. Its intuitive visualization can be used to analyze the ecosystem positioning, develop an ecosystem strategy, and ecosystem design. At its core, the Ecosystem Strategy Map consists of two dimensions: 10 Life Areas and 3 Roles. This article is about the 10 Life Areas of the Ecosystem Strategy Map which represent the central categories for human needs. In upcoming articles, we will talk about the 3 Roles that describe positions for companies within ecosystems and will show how to use the Ecosystem Strategy Map for your business growth.

10 Life Areas describe human needs 

Ecosystems ultimately fulfill human needs across all areas of life. On the basis of our applied research with more than 1,000 practitioners, we have identified a total of ten areas that represent our life holistically. Using the Ecosystem-to-Human (E2H) perspective, ecosystem products and services can be structured in these 10 Life Areas around the final customer/human in the center.

Ecosystem Strategy Map in Life Area view: Ecosystem products and services are structured in 10 Life Areas using the Ecosystem-to-Human (E2H) perspective.

Final customers have the possibility to use products and services of one or more Life Areas depending on their needs. Thus, they are using offers and value propositions of ecosystems that are established by companies. In the ecosystem era, boundaries between offers fully owned by one company versus joint offers created through ecosystem partnerships will become increasingly blurred. Hence, companies must understand and define which of the 10 Life Areas they want to serve to focus effectively fulfilling core human needs.

The 10 Life Areas

Mobility

Human need: Get from A to B on land, on water, through air and space.

This area consists of everything that is getting people from point A to B: Infrastructure (highways, train stations, and airports), the whole manufacturing process (from resources to components to assembling vehicles like cars, trains, airplanes, ships, etc.) and mobility services (like taxi, taking the train, or flying). It also includes IT solutions supporting the need (like navigation systems, software for autonomous driving, or car-sharing apps). It does not include the transport of goods (logistics), as this is an enabling service for all Life Areas.

Health

Human need: Stay physically and mentally fit. Access to proper sanitation and health care.

All goods and services in the context of prevention, preservation, and aftercare of health. Traditional players like hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical technology manufacturers, and health insurance can be found here. In addition, new companies are currently starting to serve this Life Area with digital services to allow for a healthier living (Health Tracker, Fitness Apps, Brainjogging, or hospital management solutions). Nutritionists, fitness coaches, and restaurant owners focusing on health are also part of this Life Area, as well as, activities related to preventing people from getting sick like sanitation and wastewater treatment.

Recreation

Human need: Restore energy through sleep and recreational activities.

“Recharge your batteries” is the focus of this Life Area. It includes products and services for recreational purposes like doing sports, pursuing a hobby, going on a holiday, or traveling, as well as recovery activities like sleeping, relaxing, and wellness.

Work

Human need: Earn money (work) and/or feel good (volunteer) by creating value for others.

Includes all products and services for making work and value creation possible, easier, and more efficient. This starts with employment services to find work and ranges from infrastructure (e.g.offices and production facilities) to services meant to simplify work (e.g. software, tools, or machines), to professional services like consulting, financial audit, tax, and advisory.

Consumption

Human need: Eating, drinking, clothing, personal care, and everyday errands.

Life Area Consumption includes all goods and services related to food, water, drinks, tobacco, clothing, personal care, and beauty products, as well as consumer goods like cutlery or kitchenware. Luxury items such as watches, jewelry, or handbags are also included. Typical businesses fulfilling these needs are supermarkets, bars, restaurants, hairdressers, cosmetic studios, and fashion stores.

Spirituality

Human need: Search for meaning, enlightenment, transcendence, belief, and faith.

This Life Area includes topics such as a church, religion, esotericism, as well as, all offers around mindfulness, search for meaning, and explanation of existence. Offers such as church service, meditation seminars, and staying in a monastery fall into this Life Area.

Socialize

Human need: Love, sexual intimacy, belonging to family, friends, and society.

This Life Area covers all topics around family, friends, love, sexuality, interaction, and communication. This includes activities to connect like social networks (from Tinder to Facebook), clubs, or associations. Moreover, all offers of social coexistence (from marriage and family counseling to prostitution) can be found here.

Education

Human need: Acquire knowledge and skills, find truth, and understand the world.

Life Area Education involves all products and services that help one gain a better understanding of the world and finding truth. It includes schools, universities, as well as, all training and learning in (non-)vocational contexts.

Entertainment

Human need: Good times and enjoyment through entertainment.

This Life Area is all about enjoying entertaining experiences like watching a movie, listening to music, playing (computer) games, reading a book, watching sports, comedy, a theatre, enjoying art in a gallery, or consuming entertaining media content. 

Living

Human need: Live in a safe, fair, stable, and comfortable environment.

All goods and services in the context of living space and housing like planning, conception, construction, renting, maintenance, and interior design, as well as, applications (like washing machines or dishwashers) are part of this Life Area. 

What if my product/service applies to multiple Life Areas?

This is a good thing. There are many human needs and they differ depending on the context. Successful ecosystem strategy and design take this into account. The Ecosystem Strategy Map allows mapping of a company’s offering in every context and helps derive ecosystem partners and competitors. Opening up the conversation about possibilities is crucial.

A good example of an offer that isn’t specific to one Life Area is a hotel. Its restaurant fulfills the need to eat and drink (Consumption) and its gym and spa fulfill recreational needs (Recreation). Mapping the offerings in both Life Areas makes it significantly easier for the hotel to identify competitors or partners to join them in fulfilling these human needs better.

Another example is yoga. A yoga product or service could be mapped in different Life Areas depending on the perspective and offer. Yoga for a healthy back (Health), yoga mantras (Spirituality), or yoga breathing exercises (Recreation). Again, this allows analyzing the competitive environment and partnering options.

Apart from these specific examples, there are also offerings that fulfill human needs across many life areas or help companies in doing so. The most prominent sectors are: 

  • Financial services (banking and insurance); 
  • Telecommunication (connectivity for phones and internet); 
  • Forestry, mining, oil, and gas (resources for manufacturing and energy); 
  • Utilities (providing a foundational infrastructure for electricity, gas, water, and waste). 

Conclusion

The 10 Life Areas, as one of two dimensions of the Ecosystem Strategy Map, make it easier to understand how a company’s products and services contribute to human needs in the context of the whole ecosystem. The Ecosystem Strategy Map promotes focused ecosystem discussions that help practitioners define the right strategy, identify the best positioning options, and find the right partners for creating the best value propositions in a highly intuitive way.

In the next article, we will talk about the 3 Roles that describe positioning options for companies within ecosystems. 


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