Digital Strategies Roundtable

Ecosystems, Competition and Digital Transformation

February 27, 2019

Denton, TX, USA - Hosted by Tetra Pak


As digital technologies have developed and their use in all aspects of business has grown, it’s become quite clear that information technology is not just about gaining efficiency, removing cost, enhancing communication or speeding up internal processes. The powerful digital technology developments (especially in software) of the last few years are affecting how enterprises compete externally and how they organize internally. Technology is enabling platform ecosystems, new service delivery models and opportunities through connected products, and opening the possibilities for new partnerships to deliver services via APIs and apps. Some have therefore argued that the fundamentals of competition and success, and therefore the tenets of strategy, are changing radically, and that traditional “value chain” thinking must give way to “ecosystem” thinking. 

The discussion will explore where we are in digital transformation and how our competitive landscape is or could change. This includes how product and service delivery models for the enterprise to B2B partners, customers and end-consumers are changing through software, thus creating an opportunity for new approaches and partnerships, and potentially different roles in the competitive landscape. We will discuss the enabling of market offerings and the importance of the closing of that business loop; the increasing role of IT in customer-facing delivery of services (and products); and the challenge of managing new and potentially rather different partnerships and networks. It will also include discussion of the lessons to be learned from the development of the sharing economy, the potential future impact it may have, and the basis of competition and value creation. We will address these topics by discussing questions such as:

  • Where is your enterprise on the digital transformation journey? What has already been accomplished and what are the critical initiatives/objectives in front of you yet?

  • How has your industry changed in the last 3-5 years? Is the competitive landscape different?

  • How are ecosystems and platforms currently manifesting themselves in your industry or neighboring industries? Where do you see examples that challenge or provoke you?

  • Are ecosystems, vs. individual firms and the value chains they sit in, the basis for future competition? Besides platforms, what other forms of competing as an ecosystem are there?

  • Are platform businesses fundamentally different and do they leverage a set of “new rules of strategy” that they themselves have given rise to? What are these new rules? Does this supplant economies of scale or scope as a strategic focus or are the complementary?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages that big established companies have?

  • Are Van Alstyne, Parker and Choudary right in their HBR article and book in positing that the three key shifts in thinking from a value chain model to a platform model are:
    • From resource control to resource orchestration;
    • From internal optimization to external interaction;
    • From a focus on customer value to a focus on ecosystem value?

  • McAfee and Brynjolfsson indicated in their book Harnessing Our Digital Future that “Product to Platform” was a key change, but so were “Mind to Machine” and “Core to Crowd”. Are all three of these complementary aspects of the same phenomenon?

  • How do you determine what information and other assets could drive your platform strategy?

  • How are you approaching the sharing of critical data and information with your partners? Do you believe this can effectively lead to a revolution around value creation? What are the main issues of implementing such a system?

  • How are you managing talent in the era of open innovation? And what kind of other resources are, in your opinion, critical to start building a different vision of the company as part of an integrated network and not alone in itself?