Every year, Accenture conducts a global Technology Vision survey of business and IT executives to understand their perspectives on the impact of technology on their organizations, and to identify their priority technology investments over the next few years. For the 2017 installment, more than 5,400 executives across 31 countries took part. I will share our insights and predictions with regard to digital ecosystems in this series.

Beyond platforms

Across industries, companies are increasingly integrating their core business functionalities with third parties and their platforms. These are not the partnerships of old; in fact, forward-thinking leaders leverage these relationships to build their role in new digital ecosystems—a development that is essential to unlocking the next waves of strategic growth.

As a result, core business functions—from customer service to machine maintenance—now not only include, but heavily rely on a complex network of digital partners, reaching far beyond the walls of a single organization.

But companies are aware they need more than just a platform strategy—they need a robust ecosystem approach. Based on our survey:

75% of executives agree competitive value will not be determined by the organization alone, but by the strength of the partners and ecosystems it chooses.

While some companies see these new relationships as simply an evolution to existing value chains, tech-savvy leaders realize that these decisions portend a much deeper strategic shift to new multidimensional ecosystems that are redefining industries.

And critically, each time an enterprise leverages a third-party platform to support aspects of their business, they are, in fact, choosing the alliance partners they will count on when building their next generation of services.

Embracing a holistic strategy

To remain competitive in the long run, every business must begin moving their thinking beyond the short-term gains that digital platforms provide. Rather, they must embrace a more holistic strategy that balances tactical IT decision-making with fostering and investing in the digital ecosystems that will encompass their long-term growth.

Those who begin acting deliberately will use these collective strategies to do far more than they ever could alone, moving from improving their products to building themselves as leaders in a transforming market. Whether it’s via the platforms and services created by infrastructure providers, customer gatekeepers, or industry partners, these are the decisions that will continue to redefine businesses in shifting industries.

Platforms lead the way

More and more, platforms are becoming the central hubs for the rich and complex digital ecosystems that companies want to access. Some businesses are building platforms themselves and creating new ecosystems with their business at the center. But not every company needs to be the platform provider. In fact, most might find it cheaper and faster to leverage existing platforms as their means to enter new ecosystems.

But regardless of whether they are providers of platforms or participants in others’ offerings, all companies will have to excel at leveraging the strength of platforms in their ecosystem to maximize their success.

Ecosystem Powerplays

In my next post, I will discuss how, as more companies join the Platform Revolution, they’re designing future value chains that will transform their businesses, products, and even the market itself.

Until then, take a look at our Technology Vision 2017 page to learn more.

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