- A new IDC study says firms that collaborate with industry partners will increase their rate of innovation by 40% in 2022.
- Industry ecosystems add value in ways no CEO can ignore: supporting R&D, extending operational capabilities, and creating new customer experiences.
- The days when business leaders could view their firms in isolation are over.
Big companies can often seem unassailable—global behemoths that stride into markets with opportunities and vantage points that smaller firms can’t match. But the truth is made more complex, as digital proves to be a great leveler. A new company, idea, product, or service can emerge without warning and scale rapidly. And established businesses can wobble as the market landscape shifts beneath their feet.
This underlines the importance of organizational agility. Today, new businesses grow in a shared habitat that includes VCs, coworking spaces, accelerators, serial entrepreneurs, mentors, crowdfunding portals, and academic incubators. They’re all there, pitching in to help. Having so much guidance and so many resources to draw from is great if you’re a six-person startup, but global multinationals with thousands of employees aren’t set up to rapidly ingest outside advice. Making sudden course corrections can seem too hard when a company spans multiple countries, languages, currencies, and continents—but is it?
Industry Ecosystems Are Integral to Growth
The idea of cross-sector collaboration for big businesses first gained traction in 2014 when Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba went public. At the time, it was the largest IPO in history, generating a flood of speculation about the changes this move signaled about the global economy and the surging impact of digital.
Poring over Alibaba’s prospectus, analysts like IDC noted that it mentioned the word ecosystems more than 150 times and conveyed to potential investors how integral ecosystems would be to the company’s future growth and development.
Ecosystems are fundamental in the natural world, enabling organisms to interact and cooperate amid a particular blend of environmental conditions. Ecosystem members influence each other’s behavior, competing on the same terrain but also forming symbiotic relationships, sharing resources, and engaging in tradeoffs that help them thrive and evolve. When external disruptions arrive, organisms in the ecosystem often adapt together.
Now, new research from IDC says that business success or failure depends on mimicking the natural world. Today’s fast-moving, disrupted market environments demand that former lone wolves operate as part of an “industry ecosystem,” collaborating and cooperating toward mutual growth and survival.
- 60% of worldwide organizations have identified industry ecosystems as priority investments that will ensure long-term resilience and success.
- By the end of 2022, industry ecosystems will see a 40% greater innovation rate of new digital and physical products and services brought to market, compared with traditional innovation approaches.
- Currently, 45% of global manufacturing firms participate in industry clouds, and 26% host marketplaces that enable third-party commercial transactions.
Research shows that firms that collaborate with industry partners will increase their rate of innovation by 40% in 2022.
Giulia Carosella, IDC’s European digital transformation practice Lead and principal analyst on the study, says that digital ecosystems “enable organizations to work together with peers to deliver value, create resilience, foster innovation, and anticipate threats and opportunities. The Open Manufacturing Platform (OMP) is one example of global cooperation between businesses to accelerate innovation at scale through knowledge and data sharing and access to new technologies.”
MISUMI’s meviy system lets manufacturers order custom parts using AI-assisted parts quoting and digital fabrication. Courtesy of MISUMI.
“To ensure everyone has a shared understanding of a project, we need to publish white papers, provide explanations to those who do not understand how to use the system, or hold information sessions,” Yanagawa says. “For Japanese companies, there are many cases where cloud services are only allowed in domestic regions, which often becomes a problem.”