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Six steps to building a digital ecosystem

Open collaboration beyond company boundaries has become essential for creating new forms of disruptive growth.


Creating and sustaining open, networked collaboration at the scale needed in a global business environment is not going well for many major enterprises.

Today, these partnering ecosystems involve digital platforms that enable easy collaboration toward shared goals. Unfortunately, the operating models and cultures of many companies make them unfit for effective participation in a digital ecosystem.

Here are six steps to get your company ready for the new era of open innovation and digital partnering.


Key Findings

In a digital ecosystem, companies collaborate with entrepreneurial partners located anywhere—from next door to across the globe. The complementary skills of such partners can drive higher levels of growth. This approach enables companies to not only make collaborations more efficient, but also to enter into new ways of working and unlock previously unattainable value.

Digital technologies are seen as key to modelling the proximity needed to innovate on a more predictable basis. Eighty-two percent of executives who ranked a non-collaborative culture among their top-three challenges believe it can be solved digitally. More than three-fourths of those who selected “attracting talent” as a challenge see a digital solution. More than 60 percent of those who pointed to a lack of information, a lack of variety or inertia as challenges see digital solutions to these problems as well.

The results of creating a successful digital ecosystem can be impressive and financially significant. By matching the performance of the top 20 percent of digital collaborators, organizations can potentially increase revenue growth between 2 and 16 percentage points over the same period.


Our research identifies six important mindsets and actions of successful digital ecosystems:

  1. Agree on a clear and specific focus. The strategy should define the shared outcomes to give all parties confidence that their ROI and commitments will be shared equally.

  1. Lead with the customer experience. Focus on what your customers want and need.

  1. Get creative and establish an open culture. Develop digital fluency in employees to network externally, develop processes to absorb learning within the organization and develop a portfolio of digital tools to facilitate effective collaboration.

  1. Protect your IP. Companies must continue to protect their competitive essence.

  1. Modify operating models for mutual success. Examine entrenched business processes and adapt operating models and technologies.

  1. Use the collaboration platform that is fit for different phases of work. After initial discussions in chatrooms, move off that platform and connect directly for the more sensitive parts of the deal-making process.


Bruno Berthon

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy
Digital Strategy and Europe, Africa, Middle East and Latin America

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Emmanuel Jusserand
Managing Director - Accenture Strategy

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Ben Medland
Senior Manager – Accenture Strategy, Digital Strategy

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