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The Digital Ecosystem and Collaboration: New engines for growth and competitiveness in the digital age

Ecosystems are competitive tools to capture opportunities within the landscape of industry convergence.


Ecosystem Collaboration—Infographic
New Engines for Growth and Competitiveness in the Digital Age


Download PDFView the infographic. [PDF, 919KB]

Not too long ago, playing fields were neat. Bordered. Companies stayed within prescribed industry lines, rarely venturing outside of them.

But digital technology has changed all that—lowering entry and exit barriers to digitally contestable markets, like paying (think of Apple Pay) or getting around a city (like BMW’s DriveNow).

The increased complexity and potential of markets like these is requiring companies to make and execute corporate strategy differently. Welcome to the age of the ecosystems.

Key Findings

In an increasingly complex landscape, businesses must develop a strong ecosystem of partners stretching across the customer value chain.

As strategy and management expert Gary Hamel told us, “Companies that win are going to be the ones that are the most creative in harnessing and leveraging the skills and talents of interested outsiders.”

Among those capabilities are “hard” tech skills like data analytics and social media listening, but also “soft” ones like:

  • Relationship development

  • Cross-cultural empathy

To build expertise, some companies are setting up dedicated teams. So a retailer that wants to get into payments, for instance, may create a group specifically to connect with and understand the perspectives of banks.

But being able to execute a play that revs the engine of growth through an ecosystem requires a much more fundamental organizational change—isolated efforts simply won’t be enough.


As a business growth engine, disruption is the new globalization.

And just as companies had to build deep capabilities—from strategy down to processes—to capture growth opportunities throughout the globe, now they need to prepare for ecosystem collaboration. They will have to create organizations that are much more open, more flexible and inherently more collaborative.

That will require changes throughout the organization—in people, technology and strategy. Companies that succeed will gain the agility and adaptability needed to power future growth.


Matthew Robinson, Managing Director, Accenture Institute for High Performance

Matthew Robinson is the managing director of policy research at the Accenture Institute for High Performance—focusing on innovation in markets, industries, and policy.

His recent publications have covered the:

  • Rise of digitally contestable markets

  • Roles city governments can play in stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship

  • Digital density of national economies and its link to productivity

  • Regulatory response to disruptive start-ups

Robinson’s background is in Accenture Strategy, where he specialized in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) work for clients in the utilities and energy industries. He is based in London, UK.

Peter Lacy, Senior Managing Director, Accenture Strategy - Sustainability
Peter Lacy is the global managing director of Accenture Strategy's Sustainability practice. He has advised many of the world’s leading executives and companies on strategy and sustainability issues as well as the United Nations, European Union and national governments.

Lacy is a fellow at Oxford University. He contributes regularly to publications such as the FT, Guardian, Fast Company. He also co-chairs the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders Taskforce on Circular Economy, and he co-founded the world’s first global Circular Economy Awards. Peter is based in London, UK.