By Norma Watenpaugh, CEO of PhoenixCG specializing in collaborative business ecosystems to accelerate innovation and open new markets.
As someone who has been architecting and managing business partner ecosystems for more than 30 years in the tech industry, I am quite interested in the attention ecosystems have been receiving from management pundits of late.
I’ve observed that more and more companies are beginning to think of partner ecosystems as a “new” way to help boost growth and innovation. I, however, believe they always were. Now that more industries are becoming digitally savvy, these partner ecosystems are a critical way to navigate digital disruption and become more agile and responsive to change.
Why build partner ecosystems?
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My favorite example is John Deere. I have no ties to the brand, but I find its evolution to be an excellent example of partner ecosystems. John Deere is a 180-year-old company that is known for its tractors and builds a range of industrial equipment and machinery.
As a farmer’s daughter, I learned to drive a tractor at the tender age of 6. Never did I imagine even a few years ago that a tractor would become an internet of things edge platform. The modern John Deere tractor can gather data and upload it to the cloud to be utilized by independent software developers for a spectrum of applications, which farmers can then access from computers, tablets or smartphones.