Proposition 5: Shrink the entry barriers for potential partners
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Thomson Reuters (now Refinitiv) opened laboratories around the world—in Boston, Zurich, London, Waterloo Ontario, Cape Town and Zurich—to make it easy for customers and partners to engage with its innovation ecosystem. By establishing local centres, Thomson Reuters Labs made it easy to “collaborate with customers and partners to solve big problems and rapidly prototype and validate solutions using data science and lean techniques.”
Partners may well understand the value that an ecosystem can bring them, and be prepared to join it. But the costs of doing so may turn out to be a significant barrier. Finding ways to lower the entry costs and make it easy to join the ecosystem is, therefore, important, especially when trying to trigger a positive spiral that will propel the ecosystem forward.
From our case studies we learned that there are several initiatives an ecosystem leader can take to help reduce the costs that partners incur when they join the ecosystem. The obvious first step is to waive any joining fee. But successful ecosystem leaders have gone much further. They have developed standardised interfaces, not only between themselves and their partners, to facilitate connections between partners in their putative ecosystem. When starting each of its ecosystems, including Taobao and Ant Financial, Alibaba, for example, made it easy for partners to join by establishing standard data exchange interfaces. That way, when an order was placed on Taobao, data was immediately shared with the seller and the logistics provider. Alibaba also aimed to make it as easy as possible for new sellers to open a Taobao store by providing software tools to get their shop-front up and running for free.
Thomson Reuters opened laboratories around the world—in Boston, Zurich, London, Waterloo Ontario, Cape Town and Zurich—to make it easy for customers and partners to engage with its innovation ecosystem. By establishing local centres, Thomson Reuters Labs made it easy to “collaborate with customers and partners to solve big problems and rapidly prototype and validate solutions using data science and lean techniques.” By reducing the barriers to partner engagement, Thomson Reuters has also been able to fuel innovation by connecting data sets and deep industry expertise with innovation communities around the globe, including world renowned universities and academic research centres.
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