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Just as the pandemic has exposed high levels of concentration risk in supply chains right across industries and geographies, organisations which fail to invest in developing and maintaining their partnership ecosystems risk cutting off innovation, diminishing customer value and severing commercial flows, with long term consequences.

As Boards and Leadership teams rightly consider where and how to trim non-critical expenditure and right size for the new economic normal, this post explores the case for maintaining and even increasing focus on 3rd party ecosystems as a means to bolster commercial and customer value and avoid negative unintended consequences.

Partnerships, whether integration, implementation, commercial or otherwise-classified, have always been part of the DNA of scaling organisations for the obvious reason that they can extend distribution, encourage innovation and drive down innovation costs, and support market penetration for individual organisations and networks.

The danger is of course, that severing ties too quickly can have significant and broad impacts on customer value perception. For example, the loss of an integration partners can result in significant loss of functionality and utility for a client using that integration, and potentially increase costs due to that event triggering a search for an alternative or workaround.

Together alone cannot be the answer

In the current environment, we would argue that organisations will be significantly stronger by reaching out to their ecosystem to identify and collaborate on product and service solutions to deliver to clients. Not only can innovation be achieved, and often is, by the bringing together of differing perspectives, but also the cost of that innovation can be significantly reduced, as can the cycle time from product development to market. Using the specific skill set and IP of subject matter experts in a collaborative setting can also greatly increase the overall efficiency with which networks can deliver solutions to market problems.

Organisations stand to benefit from maintaining their ongoing investment in networks as a way to preserve customer value and tap vast resource inherent in the network.

Key Management take outs

  • Partnerships provide competitive advantage and are enduring in the minds of buyers
  • Maintaining a focus on 3rd party ecosystems ensures continued flow of innovation, preserving customer value in support of retention and commercial performance
  • Proceed with caution. Any changes to 3rd party ecosystems must be made with consideration to impacts on customer value
  • Organisations stand a significantly better chance of preserving value and surviving by leaning on existing networks for innovation, commercial flows and cost-sharing.
  • Setting up formal and informal panels and forums to engage openly with networks is a recommended step
  • Open and proactive communication with 3rd party ecosystem members will ensure access to vast pools of shared knowledge and improve organisational agility and ability to maintain value.
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