April 21, 2017

Ecosystems aren’t just driving digitalization – they’re shaping our entire future. Here’s how.

Janne Herkama

Business Development Director, Tieto

Cloud and digitalization are changing businesses fast. Most Fortune 500 organizations are building digitalization capabilities right now. For us IT vendors the speed of change is happening at a lightning pace.

Ecosystems have rapidly become an integral part of daily operation models, helping us to build future capabilities that support our customers’ digital transformation agenda. Ecosystems have revolutionized our working environment. We need to ensure that we have the capabilities and assets to support our customers’ journey at every step.

Embodying the change

We see duality as a core part of the road map to digitalization. In the old model, ICT and business were separate organizations. The chief information officer (CIO) was responsible for leading IT system development. But today business functions are more and more taking the lead in development, with the chief digital officer (CDO) playing an ever stronger role in digital transformation.

Becoming a market leader in digitalization solutions has required us to rapidly transform our own behavior and capabilities. The focus is firmly on:

  • Business challenges
  • Value for the customer and the customer’s end users
  • The challenge to the customer’s industry.

To embody this change, we as employees faced a learning curve. We deepened our knowledge and put all our efforts into supporting the business transformation journey of our customers.

Internal entrepreneurs

One of the most fundamental shifts has been the promotion of an internal entrepreneurial culture inside teams. This has enabled us to develop our competences faster and in a more agile way. Coupled with this is our open source culture. This approach is how we’ve achieved our current level. It lets us share best practices across teams, industries and technologies, and provides us with the optimum transformation tools, both internally and externally. We’ve established a truly global community that’s capable of leveraging our open source culture to achieve superb results.

The evolution within the business environment and across each industry has been dramatic. This is reflected in our team methods. Team members need to have a winning attitude and a willingness to change according to priorities. Leaders must understand the value of sharing information and have the capacity to learn from mistakes. To maximize the role of internal entrepreneurs, it’s essential to recognize behaviors that foster organizational transformation.

Another effect of the business environment’s metamorphosis has been the notable shortening of the time to market. Whereas earlier expectations were quantified in months, today we’re talking about weeks or even days. This has affected our approach to solution development. To achieve our full potential, a great deal of focus is now placed in the recruitment process. This ensures we find the right candidates. In the future, ecosystems will play an even greater part in this area.

Ecosystems at the heart of everything

Let’s look at some of the key elements that build effective ecosystems and bolster internal entrepreneurial culture. One of the most important factors is trust - trust between internal organizations and trust between external organizations. These external organizations may be large enterprises or small startups. In either case, ecosystems are people-driven, hence the vital need for trust. Other requirements for a long-lasting ecosystem that supports both parties are:

  • Clear buying strategies from the management and executive sponsors
  • Mutual key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success
  • Simple governance model.

To succeed in digital transformation, leaders should understand the most valuable assets of ecosystems and internal entrepreneurial culture. Ecosystems are not simply an excellent sales strategy – when done correctly they are embedded into the very DNA of an organization. With the right partners and assets, ecosystems can turn dramatic business transformations into invaluable opportunities.

Trust is a two-way street

But for this to work we have to be willing to openly share our own best practices and knowledge. One implementation of this could be sharing key resources and building voluntary exchange programs with organizations across different industries. A real life example of this is the Building Digital Future for Finland forum on LinkedIn, where we encourage others to share their best practices and to network with one another.

Ecosystems and open source cultures thrive in an atmosphere of trust and cooperation. By helping others to be successful, you enable your own success and future growth. In the ever-shifting world of digitalization, this is an approach that we’re already making the most of.

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