Creating a successful ecosystem is hard work

Even efficient, highly skilled employees often find time too short to accomplish their daily agendas. Add an unexpected challenge or two, and that day’s schedule can fly out the window.

The same thing goes on at a larger scale in many industries, as the orderly course of business is pushed aside in favor of dynamic new approaches to traditional commerce. Strangers’ homes substitute for hotel rooms, private cars replace taxis and information from sensors affect insurance rates. The status quo is disrupted.

Organizations, including insurance, recognize that disruption increasingly is becoming a way of life, but knowing more is coming doesn’t necessarily make it easy to adapt, much less to profit from it.

My last blog post detailed Accenture’s research among insurance chief strategy officers (CSOs) showing 94% expect new technologies to rapidly change their industry over the next five years. While most of their organizations had done some preparation, only 18% felt their organizations were well prepared for sudden industry disruption.

Collaborate to grow - Stats on industry disruption

So how do you prepare to succeed in such a climate?  Call the matchmaker. Build an ecosystem.

The matchmaker will tell you:

  • Broaden your partnerships. To thrive in a setting where market-share assaults can come from unexpected places, savvy insurers partner with distributors and customers. But they’ve also moved beyond conventional pairings to create real business ecosystems that include direct competitors, organizations recognized as innovators and companies in other industries, as well as business services like logistics providers, design services, ad agencies and retailers.
  • Deepen your partnership collaborations. Disruption-ready companies move beyond the strictly transactional to share resources and derive mutual value. Their relationships with nontraditional partners are an important part of their growth agenda and prepare them to adapt their existing business models to a new market.
  • Be the partner you have to have. There always will be a place for the indispensable company, so become one. Develop the expertise, focus and reputation, and expertise that customers demand. Partners will value that organization as critical to their offerings.
  • Build a strong platform. The platform business model embraced by disruption-prepared businesses builds on digital realms–including social and cloud computing–to connect partners with customers at scale and on demand. Its potential benefits can include growth through the network effect, enhanced sustainability of the business, attracting new customers from outside the traditional base and enabling participating partners to focus more on activities they do well. In theory, the platform can enable the builder to share market risks with a wider array of partners.
  • Invest in technologies that support your goals. With disruption a given and flexibility a must, the need for an up-to-date, agile architecture is obvious.
  • Be open. Although companies like Apple, Nike, Monsanto and Google X are noted for their secrecy, our research shows that companies that embrace operational flexibility, taking steps to be collaborative and open about processes and people, are more prepared than guarded ones to thrive in disruption

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