If you have spent any time in business over the last few years, you will have been hard-pressed not to have come across the term ‘ecosystem.’ This evocative word seems to be on the lips of every executive out there and tends to be used in a rather optimistic and idealistic sense.
What, then, is a partnership ecosystem in real terms? Put simply: there is no such thing. The so-called partnership ecosystem is simply a term. It is a term that describes – relatively accurately – a state in which partnered businesses interact with each other on an equal footing. Although this describes partnerships in the past, the identification and quantification of this situation are significant. It represents a shift in how partnerships are seen by analysts.
New technology has changed partnerships – typically for the good. Because of API technology and the migration to the cloud, parity-level partnerships are far more possible for small businesses that would otherwise have had to invest huge amounts of money in technology integration. Although it’s possible that the term ‘ecosystem’ indicates a true shift away from the conventional logic of partnership, it is worth going over some of the features of new partnerships that have led to the coining of the term.
Parity, or equality, is immensely important in promoting the development of a mutually beneficial partnership ecosystem. This does not necessarily mean that achieving parity is a no-brainer. There are plenty of issues for companies that want to form partnerships that have a degree of mutual parity. For starters, one partner might become furious when another fails to pull its weight. This is not uncommon but can usually be nipped in the bud by negotiators willing to determine solid expectations.
Check out Workspan’s partnership relationship management guide for tips on how to handle partnerships in a way that ensures some degree of parity. Workspan is a big believer in the partnership ecosystem concept and has lots of resources available to companies that also wish to get behind the idea.
Mutual benefit is the bedrock of any good business partnership. The idea of a partnership ecosystem rests on an understanding that mutual benefit is better than individual competitive edge. When companies enter into parity-level partnerships, they accept that there may be short-term losses incurred by increased investment. In the long term, growth will increase due to the collaborative mutual aid inherent in an ecosystem-style parity-level partnership. One crucial area of mutuality is in training – partner companies need to have staff who are equally as trained in specialist areas as their collaborators.
Communication is key in any relationship. This includes the relationships formed by businesses engaged in partnerships. Technological advances have made communication between businesses far easier. Cloud technology, in particular, has enabled companies to share data and expertise without sending files in between various local servers.
Technology can only aid communication to a certain degree. Interpersonal communication skills and sound administrative practices still count for a great deal in business partnership ecosystems.
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