The emerging art of ecosystem partnering | HCLTech

The emerging art of ecosystem partnering
March 23, 2022

Understanding business ecosystems

A group of life forms interacting with their physical surroundings is referred to as an ecosystem.

The ideology of an ecosystem acknowledges that in every enclosed network, the participants of that system must operate together, and around one another to ensure sustainability, ultimately maximizing the total advantage. James F. Moore, a business strategist, recognized the commonalities and adapted the theory to the highly volatile and connected world of business.

So what does ecosystem mean in business? In the world of commerce, a business ecosystem can be loosely defined as an intentional contractual relationship involving two or more organizations to develop and share exceptional value for a particular group of consumers. There are members in each business ecosystem, and usually one of them works as the system administrator. All participants of a business ecosystem have their brands represented in the value offerings.

Need for partner ecosystems 

The criteria for primary excellence in business has significantly transformed. Businesses must reconsider their strategy, organizational and operational structures, and competencies considering the current business climate. 

As shown in the latest Accenture report, 84% of professionals worldwide believe ecosystems are fundamental to their approach and enable their companies to thrive in ways that would otherwise be impossible. According to McKinsey, the era of “Ecosystem 2.0” has dawned, with successful cross-industry ecosystems generating a $60 trillion market by 2025. 

In the last 40 years, the nature of partnership has shifted considerably. Digital applications are now built from a wide range of sources, integrated via plug-and-play APIs, deployed on the cloud, and personalized with managed services. The previous “sell-through” business of distributors, warehouses, and VARs has been utterly overshadowed by this concept.

A robust partner ecosystem can serve as a powerful instrument for businesses in the present hyper-competitive market. Many businesses are forming communities or joining business ecosystems to uphold and strengthen their status. These ecosystems offer small companies the ability to use advanced technology, acquire research expertise, achieve business excellence, and be in the same league as larger organizations.

Types of business ecosystems and partnerships

A business ecosystem can be viewed from a macro (country or industry level) or micro (individual level) perspective, and it can either be local or worldwide.

  • Macro-business ecosystems: The macro-business environment is controlled by a network of organizations. Their purpose is to encourage legislative modification through initiatives like industry standards (bluetooth) or lobbying, and they have a broad scale goal that focuses to serve a sector or a group of organizations that have shared interests.
  • Micro-business ecosystems: At the micro-level, there are two different ecosystems.
  1. Captive business ecosystem: A single company is in charge of the entire structure of individuals and organizations associated, and all major decisions are taken centrally.
  2. Decentralised business ecosystem: Here, the environment is self-regulated. The specialised open source technology contributes to the coordination of partner market ecosystems. 

The partnerships that can be a part of these varied business ecosystems can be classified into three main categories:

  • Technology partnership: A technological collaboration, or “integration partnership” often develops when one product delivers, or gathers data from a partner’s product. Tech partners, also known as Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), are the links in these alliances. This form of partnership will be chosen by a business if its program would profit from the additional skills and functionalities of a partner’s system. These are also known as “plugins” or “apps”.
  • Channel partnerships: A channel partnership brings together an ISV or software product with a channel partner for resale, management, and/or delivery of the product to market. In this partnership, the supplier benefits from a speedier go-to-market timeframe since the channel partner makes a profit from referral fees and/or providing complementary services (consulting, training, and customer support). Examples of channel partnerships are, resellers, value-added resellers (VARs), systems integrators (SIs), agency partners, indirect sales partners, affiliate partners, business process outsourcers (BPOs), and managed service providers (MSPs).
  • Strategic partnerships: Strategic partnerships, sometimes referred to as strategic “alliances,” bring two or more organizations’ long-term interests together. These alliances can (and almost always do) include both tech and channel partners. These collaborations frequently result in acquisitions.

3 Principles for ecosystem partnering success

Forming a partner ecosystem to promote continual breakthrough innovation is a prominent element of business plans, digital transformation and IoT strategies. In order to build, expand, and manage a successful partner ecosystem, there are a few basic guidelines to follow. As partner ecosystem activities move ahead, these principles should be examined and addressed.

  1. Harness technology 

    Make the ecosystem digital. Digitize all the partnership procedures, engagements, and financial reporting and projects. This offers a framework to accelerate partner activities around the world to design products, and generate profits collectively. Integrating technology simplifies ecosystem operations across business divisions, reducing or eliminating manual efforts, and getting information to partners faster.

    Although, technology must be used in tandem with a deliberate emphasis on the human aspect of transformation, a human-centric strategy is impossible for businesses to integrate on their own. Instead, they must rely on their ecosystems to achieve it. Working in an ecosystem exposes organizations to a far broader spectrum of technology, capabilities, and ideas that converge to develop solutions to fulfill the demands of the target audience. This leads to the production of value and, eventually, to an evolution.

  2. Connect 

    It is more crucial than ever to connect with partners, both in and out of your business, to be able to work in harmony. When it comes to cooperation, standardized cross-company processes enable partners to work together more swiftly, and productively by enabling well-defined business operations. Physically tracking files is no longer necessary with connected data since partners’ essential programme information is always updated and authenticated.

    In business ecosystems, having the correct culture is absolutely key. It is also critical to be open to collaborating with businesses that are extremely different from your own, such as start-ups. Creating a start-up ecosystem is a clever technique to maximise the value of these collaborations. Given the specialized impact that start-ups may have on a particular technology, leveraging their strength is a crucial component of digital ecosystems.

  3. Dynamic strategy 

    Real-time data, analysis, and collaboration converts businesses into lean, agile powerhouses of indirect revenue growth, ready to manage even the harshest market situations reliably, thanks to a digitised and linked partner ecosystem. As a result, they are able to monitor, administer, and deliver business outcomes with the accuracy, versatility, and assurance as a direct sales organization. Increase income, shorten time-to-market and shorten sales cycles guiding their partner's business ahead. 

    Management is data-driven, employees react promptly to joint prospects, partner initiatives have a tangible influence on the business, and accurate, timely reports help with analysis and strategic decision-making. Businesses can measure their partners’ programmes and efforts, hold stakeholders responsible, and develop confidence within the organization by integrating people, processes, and data into a single framework for execution with their partners.


In today’s hyper-connected world, industry and geographical barriers have lost their essence, and unpredictable innovation seems to have become routine. Responsive ecosystems are meant to adapt more promptly to changing market demands, customer preferences, and competitor analysis.

Most organizations are still unfamiliar with the emerging trend of establishing and sustaining these large collaborative networks, let alone maximizing their potential. The aforementioned thoughts serve as a jumping-off point. Forward-thinking businesses that can tap into the ecosystems’ potential will enjoy huge profits, and be well-positioned for an unforeseen future.

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