Ecosystem – a system, or a group of interconnected elements, formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment.
The ecosystem model is not new. It was introduced in 1993 in the Harvard Business Review by James F. Moore. “An economic community supported by a foundation of interacting organizations and individuals—the organisms of the business world.” He goes on to say that companies need to become proactive in developing mutually beneficial (“symbiotic“) relationships with customers, suppliers, and even competitors to ward off threats by newly arriving “species.”
Say what? Engaging the competition and customers becoming active participants? This is radical thinking for the temp workforce solutions market, a fairly competitive, desegregated industry of Staffing, Technology, MSP/RPO providers primarily responsible for client delivery, thought leadership, etc. However, this is how business is done today. Nike uses among others, Amazon to sell and distribute their product, Microsoft has a Partner Ecosystem consisting of 640,000 partners, vendors and service providers that build or sell solutions based on Microsoft products.
Our customers are sophisticated and telling us they want changes. They want contingent workforce solution providers to be a strategic business partner, offer true vendor neutrality, effective benchmarking and reporting, and provide best practices. Staffing Providers don’t have direct relationships with buyers, have inaccurate requirements and lack of feedback, and often are not being treated as a valued participant in delivery and solution for clients.
The new normal of our workforce landscape is driving the need to embrace a new model. Our workforce is more fluid than ever with increasing numbers of IC’s, contingent and gig workers, SOW, Human Cloud. We are in the middle of a talent war, technology revolution, and globalization of the workforce. This new paradigm of work may be the most dramatic change since the industrial revolution.
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The ecosystem approach to address this new paradigm of work and customer demand just makes sense. It will be enabled by a Technology-based infrastructure, allowing businesses to procure and consume work in different forms with end-to-end support. It will provide access to smart people and more resources to drive speed and innovation. It will go beyond the monolithic MSP/VMS model to a more loosely coupled network model of staffing and MSP as well as global workforce intermediary partners, advanced workforce strategy expertise, data and analytics, benchmarking and state of the art technology (including digital, cloud, mobile, analytics). It will about interdependent relationships – partnerships, alliances, collaborations to drive more value-added services. The ecosystem model will address customer demand in a dynamic way across their total workforce, enabling participants to provide a broader range of services and expand revenue opportunities. It will still provide the “one stop shop” via a central workforce intermediary that is critical to customer delivery, ensuring performance of the ecosystem participants and favorable KPI’s.
Ecosystem thinking is about leverage. Integrating operations with partners/allies will deliver a more robust solution. The ecosystem model will incorporate a broader range of staffing, technology, workforce strategy consulting providers for customer delivery. The end result to the customer is a value-add end to end system with the right technology, global partners, data and analytics and workforce strategy expertise.
In this accelerating business environment, you need to have an awareness of the big picture and find ways to play a role in it. The rise of ecosystems thinking is an opportunity to create a powerful new competitive advantage.
Want to learn more? How will you be embracing and implementing ecosystem strategies to drive growth and results? Terri Gallagher (Follow her at @gallagherandco1) will be speaking on this topic at the “Future of Work is Now” Globalization and Future of Work forum In San Francisco on April 5th 2016.