Proposition 6: Look for partners that can bring their own ecosystems
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One of the key benefits of ecosystem strategies is that they offer the opportunity to harness a diverse range of knowledge and capabilities from different companies and focus them to achieve the common vision set out by the ecosystem leader. But it is obviously a tall order for an ecosystem leader working alone to attract lots of diverse partners at the outset. One way to sidestep this problem is to look for foundation partners who can bring their own subecosystems of partners to the undertaking.
When Rolls-Royce’s decided to engage with the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Singapore as a foundation partner, EDB did not bring specific technological know-how, training capabilities, or production capacity. And it probably did not need to play a major role in the ecosystem once it was established. But its cross-organisational role in Singapore’s economic development meant that it was a key player in starting the ecosystem. EDB opened the gates to Rolls-Royce’s engagement with a myriad of other partners that were part of EDB’s ecosystem. That included everyone from SIA to the institutes, polytechnics and other suppliers that were key to getting Rolls-Royce’s new aero-engine ecosystem off the ground. In ARM’s case, its engagement with Cirrus brought access to a sub-ecosystem that included key players such as Western Digital and Lucent.
Attracting foundation partners that bring with them sub-ecosystems provides a multiplier effect that can help get a new ecosystem off the ground and running quickly.
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