The Importance of Ecosystems
Here is a good test. Look at your smartphone and answer the following:
How many third-party apps do you have installed, beyond those that came with the phone?
With any new technology, such as your smartphone, no single solution or toolset can do it all. Some technologies may cover the bases, simply checking the box of functionality or capability. But to meet user needs, organizational demands and your customers’ expectations, you must define and develop an ecosystem of solutions at scale.
At CTP, we believe in the concept of alliance and ecosystem gravity. Our goal is to be, like the sun, the center of our own solar system; to control our own destiny. We then look for partners, providers and solutions that complement us, providing greater mass (and effect) for what we do for our clients. In this process, we need to define those partners with intent and purpose.
A role within the global alliance team at CTP lies at the forefront of researching, evaluating and incubating partners into our ecosystem. In the past year we have looked at over 140 different companies and solutions that span the broad cloud ecosystem. Here are a few tips, tricks and techniques you may find useful when adopting new technologies — to speed up adoption, limit thrash and, more importantly, grow your own gravity.
The Big Bang: Understand the Extent of Your Solar System
Concisely, you first need to baseline the platform or core technology, uncovering and illuminating gaps in capability and functionality. This baseline understanding will define gaps you need closed. Rule of thumb: the earlier you are in the adoption cycle, the more fractured will be your ecosystem of complimentary toolsets.
Questions to ponder –
- What is your read on the platform’s functional or operational gaps that could inhibit adoption?
- What are the “edges” in the platform that may need additional capability?
The ecosystem will rise out of those gaps and edges.
Define the Orbits
At CTP we have a series of motions that define how we work with our clients around cloud. We start first with an assessment of existing capability, then move to the migration process. Finally, we look at the operational component to ensure our clients can successfully run their public cloud environments. These motions allow us to very quickly understand the potential fit and scope of each potential partner or technology.
Questions to ponder –
- What are the motions in your business that you can easily articulate where you can use other technologies?
- What is the relevant importance of those motions to one another? Is one more important than another?
Partner planets will start to develop where your motions map to the platform galaxy along its edges and gaps. However, you need to find the important big planets to focus on. In other words: how do you choose the right habitable partner planets? Here are some questions to drive your thought process in choosing ecosystem partners:
- Do they have similar motions to you?
- Do they have a like sense of gravity in the marketplace?
- Will they expand your ecosystem?
- Can their solution be leveraged across many motions, or is it destined to a small edge use case?
- What is the anticipated lifespan of the solution? Will it be replaced or rendered irrelevant by the platform in the next 18 months?
- Is their solution extensible and adaptable? Can you embed their functionality?
- Can this solution be used to simplify and reduce choices and options?
- What regulatory mandated and compliant environments has this solution been deployed in?
- How can we design this solution at scale, in a highly available redundant fashion?
From these questions, find those partners that align with your platform and motions. These are your big planets. Others that fit a small or bespoke use case are still relevant; however, they may be more of a consumable, rather than a true ecosystem partner. Align your efforts accordingly.
Look for the Power of Three
Once you have your rough ecosystem defined, look for the power of three. This is where you and two ecosystem partners intersect, amplifying each other in a mutually beneficial way. This builds bigger mass and more spin (read velocity) in the motions at hand. If two of the ecosystem partners have an existing relationship when they add you in, what will the outcome be? Will you have a bigger bang?
The Galaxy is Always Expanding; Keep Looking to the Stars for the Next Solar System to Inhabit
Platforms will expand, mature and die. The lifecycle of a partner will change over time. Through this process, their value to you and yours to them will also change. Always keep your eyes looking forward for the edges, looking for the gaps. Often, that is where the next disruptive solar system is born.