Sandip Patel is MD of IBM India/South Asia
The pandemic has irrevocably challenged industries and markets across the world. The blistering pace at which organisations have had to accelerate their digital transformation since the onset of the pandemic–many achieving in a few months what would have usually taken a few years–has become part of the 'new normal'. However, building speed and agility alone won’t sustain innovation and value creation through the other side of this crisis. Co-creation and co-innovation with emerging ecosystems are essential for long-term success and growth.
Powering future growth with strong ecosystem collaborations
In recent months, we have witnessed renewed collaborations within ecosystems evolving at an accelerated pace. They are broad by nature, potentially spanning multiple geographies and industries, across public, private, and academic domains. Organisations are coming together to find solutions to enhance client value, transform client experiences, and to solve some of the most critical problems faced by us today at the societal level.
Data speaks for itself. A recent report highlighted that organisations with high engagement in ecosystems report a 15 percent greater contribution to revenue from innovation in comparison to businesses with low-to-moderate ecosystem engagement. And organisations are beginning to unleash and capitalise on the value of hybrid partnerships in a big way. Further, 60 percent of CEOs expect business partnering and the number of business partners to grow significantly. In a post-pandemic world, they have clearly outlined the importance of ecosystem partnerships to stay relevant and central to customer journeys.
These new business models are giving rise to enterprise platforms that are open by design to both, enable enterprise-to-enterprise collaboration, and avoid single vendor lock-in, underpinned by enterprise-grade security. And such platforms will gradually become multi-tenant that enable industry participants to operate with agility and a capital-light operating model.
The ‘Sutradhar’ for strong ecosystem collaborations: Cloud-based platforms So what drives successful ecosystem collaborations?
For the new age of ecosystems to be effective, they need to be characterised by openness, mutuality, flexibility, dynamism, and permeability. As the need for organisations to be ‘open’ and ‘flexible’ becomes quintessential, platforms become the game-changer. With a projected growth rate of around $60 trillion by 2025, or nearly one-third of all global commerce, the market value of platform economics is ripe for businesses to capitalise now.
The power of the hybrid cloud
The strength of the platform business model lies in its ability to bring in operational scalability and flexibility, as organisations look at balancing the incumbent advantage of proprietary data with new insights garnered across a spectrum of ecosystem partners. It thrives on trust, as seamless collaboration and co-development require the sharing of data and information. Organisations must architect open APIs (application programming interface) to enable the secure exchange of data. With digital platforms taking the center stage, the ability to 'write once and run everywhere' when creating new applications for innovation is key. Similarly, it requires a more scalable and flexible infrastructure that is not hindered by factors such as aging IT infrastructure, operating models, and growth. Therein lies the power of the hybrid cloud.
A hybrid cloud solution's architecture can address these challenges, including bringing in robust security operations that manage external threat intelligence and threat management alongside data security and identity.
Executives are already anticipating this shift. A recent survey showed an increase in spending on hybrid from 42 percent to 49 percent by 2023. Organisations can expect a return on investment (ROI) that is 2.5 times from a full hybrid, multi-cloud platform technology and operating model at scale as compared to the value derived from a single-platform approach. The platform approach leads to accelerating value with scale.
In conclusion, cloud-based platforms will be central to the value chains of every industry. Cross-industry partnerships using open hybrid multi-cloud platforms can create unprecedented new opportunities for innovation and value across diverse sectors. Leveraging the untapped potential of these alliances may well be the most complex and sophisticated strategic challenge that business leaders face as the data economy grows. Companies that can create harmony within this value chain can gain a new advantage from the associated economic and competitive shifts. For entrenched industry players and new entrants alike, the opportunity is here and now–speed and agility and innovation will define winners as we transition to the new normal.
The writer is the Managing Director at IBM India/South Asia