This week, we take the opportunity to delve into our study of business ecosystems. A growing feature in many sectors, ecosystems have been a cornerstone of coverage and client acquisition teams in many financial institutions, some going back a decade. We began to ask ourselves, how well have these efforts fared – in acquiring new clients, in broadening the Bank’s reach along trade and investment corridors, and in unlocking new opportunities to partner and collaborate?
Generation 1 –Selling across the Ecosystem: The first generation of ecosystem initiatives was born, in many instances, out of a recognition that Financial institutions could better engage clients and their ecosystem partners and sell offerings across the ecosystem. And indeed, early results were promising. Dedicated teams could now bring deep industry experience into the conversation and new solutions helped connect players along investment and trade corridors. However, such early gains soon came up against the complexity inherent in large institutions and as Banks deepened their reach into the ecosystem, the need for greater agility became visible.
Generation 2 – Turning inward to be become agile: The second generation of Banking the Ecosystem initiatives placed much greater emphasis on how the institution operated and in what ways one can introduce agility into decision-making. We have seen, for example, Ecosystem Heads being appointed, to help coordinate the growing flow of information and the need to maintain alignment in decision-making to the ambitions of the institution. Client Service teams were given ecosystem responsibilities as well, in an attempt to transition newly-gained clients and Relationship managers oversaw a broader set of clients and industry contexts. Such internal transformation was not easy to achieve and, in many cases, the more layers were added to an existing model, the more complex decision-making became. Ecosystems (on the inside of these institutions) began to resemble the complexity which these institutions wanted to solve for, in the first place.
Enter Generation 3 – Ecosystems turning outward, where players recognise the interdependence inherent in many ecosystems and how opening markets and channels to new players brings with it a richer understanding of the customer and adoption of technology. Former adversaries can turn into partners and the speed at which client propositions are discovered and attended to, is growing.
The study of banking the ecosystem may have begun with a simple aspiration in mind, but as we often see in our work, the challenge to be solved is invisible at the outset. One needs to reach beyond the immediate to discover the challenge truly worth solving. From selling more to unlocking industry-wide value, from improving internal efficiencies to becoming truly adaptive, and from risk-mitigation to ecosystem-wide risk management. Ecosystems have indeed come far…