With only a quarter of UK business leaders very confident they will achieve their 2020 growth targets, and 61 percent concerned that current growth strategies are at high risk of disruption, a new strategic approach is critical to enabling business success. New research from Accenture (NYSE: ACN) finds that 78 percent of UK business leaders agree that building ecosystems – joining forces with other companies to share customer insights, technology and industry knowledge – is critical to their strategy.

Index of ecosystem capabilities across organisations

The Index shows the ecosystem capabilities of organisations across six dimensions – strategy, culture, talent, partnership architect, technology fit and innovation. Telecom, Banking and Utilities companies come out on top.

UK business leaders are quickly realising that they can achieve higher levels of growth by partnering with other companies in ecosystems over going it alone.

The ‘Cornerstone of Future Growth: Ecosystems’ study by Accenture Strategy surveyed 100 UK C-level executives from different industries to understand how companies are creating competitive advantage through agile business models. The study found that 76 percent of UK leaders believe their organisation will generate more than half of its revenues from ecosystems in the next five years.

“UK business leaders are quickly realising that they can achieve higher levels of growth by partnering with other companies in ecosystems over going it alone,” said Peter Lacy, senior managing director and UK & Ireland lead, Accenture Strategy. “Each player brings something unique to the table, which can help them innovate, create new propositions, expand their customer base or enter new markets. The beauty of ecosystems is that no single company owns or operates all components of the solution, making the value generated much larger than what could be achieved alone, and the risk is distributed equally.”

Ecosystems igniting growth

Enabled by digital platforms, ecosystems could unlock £75 trillion of value for business and society over the next decade. To capitalise on the opportunity, the research suggests UK companies are forming ecosystems to make major innovation plays (66 percent), increase revenue growth (60 percent), access new markets (55 percent) and gain new customers (53 percent). Nearly half (48 percent) of UK business leaders are actively seeking partners today.

Key statistics of the UK businesses ecosystems market

“Due to increasing market pressure, we’re likely to see more UK companies – particularly those that have traditionally been competitors – join forces as they look to create new growth and achieve competitive agility. ‘Coopetition’ will continue to grow and exciting partnerships will form as a result, some of which have already remade markets and industries around the world,” said Oliver Wright, managing director and global Consumer Goods lead, Accenture Strategy. “Customers will benefit from the new products and services that will be created, and organisations will pursue new business models to capitalise on market shifts.”

Adapting to change

Business leaders say that some of the biggest challenges they experience when building ecosystems include getting comfortable with ceding control – 45 percent of UK leaders are concerned about sharing company assets and secrets with other organisations – and 41 percent say it’s challenging to balance the responsibilities of the current business while exploring the new.

Path to success

UK businesses pursuing disruptive growth by building ecosystems should consider:

  1. Setting the vision: For ecosystems to deliver growth, it’s important to consider what the strategic intent and innovation goals are upfront. When ecosystem players combine their functional, technology and industry strengths and capabilities, they can deliver exciting new customer propositions and open new markets.
  2. Identifying the right partners: Selecting the right partners is critical to ecosystem success. Leaders should look for partners with complementary capabilities, a collaborative mindset, industry experience, customer relationships and data to set themselves up for success. They must also clearly define how data will be shared and how success will be measured. Proper governance frameworks can ease fears and reduce friction among participants.

Orchestrating the ecosystem: Once leading companies with distinct capabilities join together with a shared vision and necessary outcomes, they can launch and operate their ecosystem. The process involves planning and testing the ecosystem design and piloting the market play. Successful ecosystems enable companies to drive new value beyond what they’re able to do in isolation.

About the research

Accenture Strategy surveyed 1,252 C-level executives from organisations around the world, including 100 UK business leaders, in January 2018 to understand how they are creating competitive advantage by building ecosystems. All leaders surveyed represented companies with over $1 billion in revenues, and nearly 60 percent were over $6 billion. Thirteen industries and seven countries were represented in the study.

Data from the Accenture Strategy ‘Revenue Growth’ research was also referenced which surveyed 815 C-level executives from organisations around the world across diverse industries to identify sources of competitive growth. Furthermore, the World Economic Forum and Accenture report, ‘Digital transformation initiative: Unlocking $100 trillion for business and society from digital transformation,’ was also cited.

About Accenture

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With 449,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.

Accenture Strategy operates at the intersection of business and technology. We bring together our capabilities in business, technology, operations and function strategy to help our clients envision and execute industry-specific strategies that support enterprise wide transformation. Our focus on issues related to digital disruption, competitiveness, global operating models, talent and leadership help drive both efficiencies and growth. For more information, follow @AccentureStrat or visit www.accenture.com/strategy.

To find out more about the report, visit: www.accenture.com/growthecosystems. Join the conversation at @AccentureStrat #ecosystems.

Contact:

Lucy Davies
Accenture
+44 (0) 7773044808
lucy.d.davies@accenture.com

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