Post-COVID-19 trends – How to enter the ecosystem era from a position of strength

Written by Julian Kawohl I Heike Nguyen I Raffael Schmidt

July 21, 2020

Today we want to shed some light on how the current Coronavirus pandemic is influencing business ecosystems. We show you the effects it has on companies of all areas, and then offer recommendations for successful future ecosystem positioning.

Executive Summary

  • Companies have a unique opportunity to enter the ecosystem era Post-COVID-19 with a strong stance when applying Ecosystem-to-Human (E2H) thinking with our How-To-Guide.
  • The Ecosystem Strategy Map is used as a heat map to visualize relevant ecosystem trends induced by the COVID-19-health crisis.
  • We identified 4 winning and 3 losing Life Areas for ecosystems that help business leaders identify strategic positioning options.
  • Ecosystem Orchestrators are in a winning position as they act as the final customer touchpoint for ecosystems and manage final customer needs but other roles can shine as well.
  • Sustainability and Health play a central role in demonstrating the importance of human-centric thinking.

Our methodology

In order to analyze the relevant ecosystem trends induced by the COVID-19-health crisis, we took the Ecosystem Strategy Map and created a heat map by consolidating expert opinions and industry trends. The heat map is color-coded green where we see a mainly positive impact from COVID-19, yellow where we see no clear impact and red where we see mainly negative impact.

Ecosystem Strategy Map used as a heatmap for Covid-19 trends: 4 Life Areas are winning with two or three segments with positive effects (Health, Work, Consumption and Socialize)

We then looked at more than 50 global companies and mapped them according to their core offering to give examples in all Life Areas and Roles.

Our analysis is subject to the fast-changing scientific understanding about COVID-19 and as a consequence underlies changing insights on how it will affect the global economy. Furthermore, our analysis is showing general trends with exceptions to the rule.

More than 50 global companies are mapped according to their core offering.

Analysis

Why to focus on human needs

From a Life Area perspective, we identified three losing Life Areas (Mobility, Recreation, and Living) and four winning Life Areas (Health, Work, Consumption, and Socialize). Three Life Areas show no clear impact (Spirituality, Education, Entertainment).

While all Life Areas are taking a human need perspective there is a hierarchy of needs demonstrating the importance of focusing on value creation for core human needs: 

  • Health as the foundation of all human activity, 
  • Work to create value for others and to make a living, 
  • Consumption as a necessity to feed, and 
  • Socialize as an inherent need for social beings like us.

We believe that – despite the immediate economic risks of the current crisis – there will be two prosperous fields in the future as they are fundamental to our existence and doing:

1, Life Area Health: Due to COVID-19, health is not only a near-future problem to be fixed, but a future topic in our generation’s mind as a new virus may lurk just around the corner. 

2, Sustainability across all Life Areas: It is not only a human need that allows us to continue living on our planet but rather a natural constant for the ‘modus operandi’ of a lasting, future economy as a whole.

There is no doubt, that human needs have to be in the center of attention to recover from the pandemic and start our comeback. But how do we build back stronger?

Every company needs an answer to this question and only ecosystems will have the power to holistically address the biggest challenges of our time. A great example is the current COVID-19 vaccine development where pharmaceutical companies around the globe join forces.

Orchestrators to rule them all

When looking at the 3 Roles of ecosystems, the Orchestrator role is the clear winner of the crisis in 7 out of 10 Life Areas, followed by Realizers (3 out of 10) and Enablers (2 out of 10). 

Orchestrators own the final customer touchpoint and manage their human needs. This makes them the central hub for every ecosystem with almost all transactions being processed through them. This position – between final customers and many ecosystem partners (Realizers and Enablers) – makes them highly resilient. If some partners fail in their domain, Orchestrators still have many others in their partner pool to jump in.

Obviously, this is great news for Orchestrators. However, Realizers and Enablers with a strong and consistent offering are in a great position, too. They will be valuable partners for the best ecosystems that want to collaborate with the most reliable.

Implications for business leaders – A how-to guide

Step 1 – Assessment

Start thinking with an ecosystem mindset and extend your perspective from B2B and B2C to Ecosystem-to-Human (E2H). This means always start thinking from a human need/final customer perspective (this is especially true for the Enabler role with no direct contact to the final customer). Ask yourself:

  • In the end, who is the final customer using the outcome of my products or services?
  • How will my business change with the prevailing ecosystem trends emerging around human needs? Think of the two important future aspects: Health and Sustainability.
  • Which Life Area and Role am I positioned in right now? Who are my current partners?
  • Which Life Areas and Roles could I position my company in? Where do we have assets and competencies? Think out of the box.
  • With whom can I potentially partner to be part of an end-to-end ecosystem to address human needs instead of just functional ones?

Step 2 – Opportunities

Now, use this landscape of current and potential ecosystem partners and match it with the COVID-19 losers and winners. Ask yourself the following guiding questions:

If you are in a losing position:

  • Which assets do I bring to the table/”to the ecosystem party”?
  • What do I have to offer to partner with winners?
  • Which possibilities do I have to shift business focus towards winning positions?

If you are in a winning position:

  • Which losing positions can you strategically dominate in the future coming from a position of strength? 
  • Can you realize growth potential with ecosystem partnering or M&A?

Conclusion

The current times are difficult but with every crisis comes opportunity. We believe that most companies that were healthy prior to the outbreak – whether they are now in losing or winning positions – can turn the tide when applying Ecosystem-to-Human (E2H) thinking. When using this mindset, the Ecosystem Strategy Map helps business leaders not only to identify key trends and their own positioning but also to find the right partners to enter the ecosystem era.

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Sources:


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