Pandemic reveals companies on edge: 3 ways digital ecosystems can help


For a majority of businesses, the pandemic has revealed a scary reality: companies are far more vulnerable than they believed. The entire global economy is feeling the effects of this pandemic and digital disruption. But there’s a bright spot on the horizon: COVID-19 and digital ecosystems are on course to enhance the future of commerce, making it more secure and reliable.

Although technology and data are significantly changing every industry, many still don’t have their business models digitally enabled.

After COVID-19, digital ecosystems will be the norm, not the exception

In the future, business success will depend on two dimensions:

  • A managed customer experience
  • An ability to create digital ecosystems

Brands with emotionally connected customers know that a great customer experience is crucial. A digital ecosystem extends core models into the digital world.

Inspired by natural ecosystems, digital ecosystems require both competition and collaboration. Digital ecosystems provide customer value in various ways:

  1. By dynamically combining services with products, creating new and data-driven digital products and services
  2. Introducing subscription-based business models
  3. Onboarding other vendors to the ecosystem

These strategies lead to simplified consumer journeys, increased customer loyalty, and more relevance as a leading partner.

By creating customer-centric touch-points, companies can:

  • Track customer journeys
  • Understand purchasing triggers
  • Recommend the right products

Understanding how digital and physical channels impact each other can drive massive customer opportunities. Amid COVID-19, digital ecosystems can help extend the assortment, add services from partners, and create new revenue streams.

Business-to-business (B2B) processes require a flexible, reliable, and mature platform that allows you to create the digital evolution of the traditional core business.

In the case of investment goods and machinery, this can result in a digital twin of the physical reality. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in Germany predicts significant growth of transaction- and IoT-based platforms within the next years.

COVID-19 and digital ecosystems: 3 ways to overcome challenges

Large B2B organizations may have divisions targeting entirely different types of customers with different needs and demands – even using different go-to-market strategies and underlying business models.

Though business units must be treaded differently, let’s look at three ways digital ecosystems can leverage synergies: 

    1. Inhomogeneous sales partner structures: Global sales and distribution structures spanning across the globe can create vast and systemic complexity. For instance, the fact that a local presence is self-owned in one country but based on a partnership in another already creates challenges. Channel conflicts, multilevel structures, and regional assortment limitations quickly pile up more.
    2. Multiple distribution models: The previous case can be even more complicated if the company relies on several distribution models in parallel. These can include indirect selling through distributors or service partners, selling through sub-partners, or selling directly to the customer. You can create a holistic approach to various models with low operational cost within a digital ecosystem, providing insight into the entire sales and distribution chain.
    3. Combined business models: A digital ecosystem also allows you to combine different business models to optimize revenue and margin. Most companies still purely sell physical products – but the possibilities extend further beyond.

Physical products can easily be bundled with digital products. Subscription-based revenue streams provide stable inflow and liquidity. To create new revenue models, companies can introduce usage-based subscription scenarios or dynamic pricing.

In the end, it comes down to one thing – all of the aspects mentioned above do not require just a Webshop, as a Webshop cannot support sophisticated business strategies.

Today, your customers expect you to sell online, but what distinguishes successful players is the ability to foresee and exploit the power of digital ecosystems.

Stable digital ecosystems must be based on a digital platform that fully supports the core business and allows you to create additional value and new revenue streams.

Strategy and technology have a synergetic relationship.

Choosing the best platform to rely on is an incredibly important strategic decision, requiring:

  • Top-down commitment
  • A partnership-driven mindset
  • Agility
  • Appropriate resources
  • Creativity
  • Most importantly, the right technology platform

There are endless vendors out there, but not many folks provide the background, reliability, trust, and long-term innovation needed to strategically secure a company’s digital ecosystem.

The majority of all business transactions on this planet touch one system, so managing traditional ecosystems based on a wide variety of business models across all industries is their home turf. With the right CX solutions – including commerce cloud solutions – the right technology stack can complement your business with a digital ecosystem and excellent customer experience.


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Martin Barzauner

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