Blurred Lines: Developing Mutually Beneficial Digital Ecosystems
It seems like there’s always a new buzzword to describe what’s happening to our personal and professional lives because of technology. Whereas we once summed up the change with the phrase digital transformation, we’re now up to creating a living, breathing digital ecosystem—and recent studies show a majority of today’s companies aren’t built to survive it.
Think about cities like the Silicon Valley, Hong Kong, and New York City. They’re hubs of digital discovery, where companies and people from a wide range of industries are working together for shared advancement. The digital ecosystem is effectively blurring lines between companies and industries, leaving all to work toward “co-innovation” that will help all of them grow bigger, stronger, and smarter in the long term. The problem: a 2016 study shows companies do not have cultures or infrastructures that will help them participate in the digital ecosystem, let alone thrive in it. Below, I offer a few tips for preparing your business to survive in technology’s ever-changing digital habitat.
Create a Culture of Innovation
Not to sound too Darwinian here, but if you want your business to last, you need a culture that embraces innovation. Today’s business leaders find excitement and joy in creating newer, better ways of doing what needs to be done. A recent Gartner survey showed growth remains a recurring theme in terms of top business priorities in the digital age—and growth cannot come without innovation. In fact, a full third of their IT budgets on digital because they know that digital is what will help them grow. This is a time when new, more, better is the name of the game. There is no room for “same old, same old” in the digital ecosystem.
Create a Culture of Collaboration
Two heads are always better than one, especially in an era where technology is changing how we live and work at a record clip. It’s not a coincidence that we’re seeing an uptick in the number of united communication (UC) providers in the business world. The businesses that are thriving in today’s digital ecosystem are ones that harness the full potential of technology and open source coding to bring the best minds and technologies together. They are not limited by geography, industry—or silo. They find joy in connecting for the greater good, not just within their own companies but outside of it. Companies that value protectionism over collaboration won’t fit in the digital world.
Create a Culture of Cooperation
An ecosystem is a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. By definition, an ecosystem will fail if members don’t respect the value of the other members interacting within it. Cooperation is a big part of that. Nearly 80 percent of top performing digital businesses indicate participation in digital ecosystems. They make it a priority to learn and share with those around them. They know the best ideas will come from reaching across company and industry borders, and advancing the world together.
Create a Culture of Tech
Because the digital ecosystem is ever-changing, companies living within it need to be open and agile. That means embracing technology like cloud, mobility, analytics, and united communications (UC) to ensure that their businesses are nimble, scalable, and able to connect the best minds in their industry and beyond. As noted above, culture and infrastructure are huge levelers in the digital game. If your company is struggling with an infrastructure of aging and antiquated legacy systems, it will be difficult to collaborate, much less compete.
Is it clear that culture is one of the most important aspects of thriving in the digital ecosystem? At the core, your company’s personal culture still needs to suit the unique vibe or your business. It needs to work and grow along with you and your model for the future. That said, a culture that embraces change must also be a part of that because change is the only constant in today’s digital world.
In the near term, many companies will likely continue to focus on bimodal IT, trying to balance the needs for keeping their companies stable and profitable (and dealing with complications of age-old legacy systems), while simultaneously considering how their companies can grow and remain agile in the digital age. At the current rate of change and progress—with mobile only fast upon us—we’d be smart to keep the bimodal phase of our companies as short as possible. As Darwin taught us, survival of the fittest will ultimately win out in any ecosystem—especially ones in constant forward motion.