One of the most difficult aspects of creating and maintaining a digital ecosystem is simply managing all the various components that make it up.
Digital ecosystems can be vast and varied, making them difficult to get a handle on. Where a 20th Century company might have only had a handful of sales outlets making direct contact with customers, along with some form of post-sale support, today’s companies could have a dozen completely different customer-facing channels – or more. This complexity only grows when considering various ways businesses can partner up and interact within the business ecosystem being supported by the digital ecosystem.
No two digital ecosystems will ever be entirely alike, but they often share many components in common. Here are some of the most common components, as well as some tips on managing them.
The cornerstone of your digital ecosystem will be its data storage environment. Ecosystems thrive on data access and exchange, so it must be maintained in a way that gives uninterrupted access to anyone who needs it. Increasingly, this is handled through the use of cloud-based servers – usually maintained by a third party.
Off-site data storage will help increase authorized access, and minimize risks of intrusion, but always maintain backups.
An Application Programming Interface (API) is the cornerstone of many modern software products, because they create an easy pathway for different pieces of software to “talk” to each other. APIs are stable and well-documented pieces of software that programmers can easily use to implement features. As one example, if you develop a product with built-in Facebook integration, you would almost certainly be using APIs to handle the translation from your user’s input to Facebook and back.
APIs are excellent for ecosystems because they make it simpler for companies to work together on shared software projects. They can also potentially become a revenue stream in themselves, if you have a particularly useful proprietary API which could be licensed to other entities.
Speaking of Facebook, social media is now a major part of virtually any ecosystem, regardless of market or target audience. A company with a strong ecosystem will have dedicated social media managers and writers handling their social feed. Remember, social media is outreach, and it’s two way. Many consumers now expect to be able to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, as lines of communication just like they would traditional tech support phone calls or emails.
An ecosystem needs software in place that allows for collaboration on projects, creation of media, and other creative works. For smaller operations, systems such as Google’s online office suite can serve this purpose. However, cheap/free third-party tools are difficult to control, and you may fight against their feature set. Having bespoke tools is usually the best long-term solution, once they are within the reach of your budget.
Use of AI within ecosystems is expanding at an incredible rate, along two different tracks.
First, AI is increasingly used to monitor and micro-manage the inner workings of ecosystems. This usage comes via Industry 4.0 thought. AI may be monitoring your network for intrusions, or watching for key phrases in communications, or simply watching out for “red flags” that you want notification of.
Also, AI chatbots are being utilized as yet another customer-facing mouthpiece. Chatbots are still extremely dumb (this is not actual artificial intelligence) but can be very effective at answering basic questions, or acting as a self-serve FAQ. They can also be enhanced with the ability to set up callbacks from humans, whenever a customer asks something they can’t answer.
FUSE Ties Your Ecosystem Together
Ecosystems can be overwhelming, due to their complexity, but they are the way of the future. FUSE by LogicBay makes it easier! We provide a highly-customizable set of tools that streamline ecosystem management, whiles simplifying tasks such as document collaboration and training management.