Today’s enterprise is coming out of an infamous year.  It is one  characterized by resilience and optimism in the shadow of an unprecedented worldwide pandemic.  Survival, however, has been possible, in large part, due to government support and the creative use of technologies and interoperability within ecosystems.

An ecosystem, in the context of business organizations, refers to a network of many functional areas: supply, distribution, users, accounting, human resources and others.  Managed services within these functional areas are part of an ecosystem choreographed by channel partners, systems integrators, and trusted advisors who work with cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) and large-scale ERP systems to ensure these functional areas keep ticking, often times serving as the “glue” that keep organizations working together even as their workforce has been largely forced to a remote delivery of their functions.

It Takes an Ecosystem

With the availability of software and applications that work within an increasingly complex network of public and private clouds, services are now available that not only save cost, but build efficiency and agility to make the whole machine run. But it takes an ecosystem.

That’s precisely what a strategic channel partner can help structure. Achieving effective ecosystems ought to be a priority of any firm seeking to be world-class and operating and competing in today’s lickety-split environment where workers are located everywhere and are often not physically co-located.

Understanding Your Ecosystem

McKinsey in their report “How the best companies create value from their ecosystems,” trumpet the value of establishing an ecosystem as a priority and sort the applicability of an ecosystem into three archetypes.

“Developing ecosystem strategies has become a priority for many global companies… They can begin by aligning their strategy with one of three archetypes that best fits their business and its capabilities: growing the core business, expanding the company’s network or portfolio, or building end-to-end solutions. Once they decide on an archetype (or a combination of them), they can later assess their performance with appropriate metrics.”

Building an Ecosystem – One Brick at a Time

Take the case of Davis Strategic Innovations, Inc., (DSI) a service-disabled veteran–owned small business located in Huntsville, Alabama. Dr. Jim Davis, President of DSI, needed on operations infrastructure to accommodate a healthy growth curve. They were challenged with the demands of back-office activities such as bookkeeping and accounting and financially staying lithe and limber to compete and withstand DCAA audits in the government contracting arena.   Now, like many other organizations providing important services to DoD, they must address the new CMMC requirements that address cybersecurity controls designed to address the security of data considered important to both themselves and their customers.

When getting into shape to run in the race of DoD contracting, an entity is unlikely to do it alone.   They utilize cloud-computing applications with help from a channel partner or systems integrator.  DSI did not go it alone; they sought help from their channel partner. The partner helped build out their financial and business process architecture, ultimately putting them in good stead with a financial and accounting operation, ready for business and their managed security services are being leveraged to improve their cybersecurity profile.

The Power of Partnership

Within the fabric of an effective ecosystem, however, is a strong partnership.  Such a partnership may be plural, with one partner serving in multiple ways, or many partners serving in one or more ways.  Any way it works, there are some essentials in working with partners to build successful ecosystems.

At the forefront is the importance of building the right synergy up front.  This means viewing a channel partner not as a vendor, but – as a partner, and one who can be a game changer by helping them integrate and build-in necessary infrastructure.  In turn, such relationships turn ho-hum operations into an efficient machine with many parts, operating with precision.

Partnership also relies on the merits of clear and concise communication upfront.  This means a mutual understanding of goals, objectives, problems, and the path or journey to a solution.  Sometimes such journeys are not only overwhelming, but difficult to visualize early on, and a partner who has the gravitas and the integration “muscle” is just what’s needed.

Ecosystems are the way of the future.  At the root of the ecosystem is a forged partner relationship, wired with knowledge, experience, certifications, and a team of human capital at the ready, so firms can get bigger, better ecosystems established and successfully take on any challenges in the present terrain as well as the future.

Michael Tinsely is the founder, president, and CEO of NeoSystems, a full-service strategic IT integrator, managed services and cloud provider enabling businesses to enhance agility and speed innovation through end-to-end automation. NeoSystems business model is underpinned by an extensive ecosystem that’s enabled through its wide-reaching partnership network that includes Microsoft, DelTek and TIP Technologies, among others.

Ecosystems stock image by SOMKID THONGDEE/Shutterstock