Digital Ecosystems – What are they and how have they evolved?

If you like to stay abreast of digital jargon, you might have heard the words ‘digital ecosystem’ floating around the internet for a while. And if your business is linked to the internet which, let’s face it, is not avoidable anymore, you need to know what a digital ecosystem is, how they have evolved, and why you need one.

What is a Digital Ecosystem?

A digital ecosystem consists of many different groups of companies, people, and things that are connected via digital platforms. Much like a co-working space, digital ecosystems create a shared environment which includes different people and platforms working on different things, but who still have the ability to connect, collaborate, network, and exchange ideas. It is a singular platform which allows for mutually beneficial connections between brands, their customers, connected industries, and the competition.

Simply put, a digital ecosystem utilises a platform that links together all aspects of your digital space and allows for collaboration and mutually beneficial results for your brand.

The Evolution of Digital Ecosystems

Every ecosystem is different and can be made to fit any business depending on what is needed for that particular brand. It is no longer just ‘tech-savvy’ businesses who are employing the use of digital ecosystems, it has become mainstream for all businesses, from hospitals and large scale firms, to entrepreneurial start-ups, to take advantage of a system that can provide them with as much insight into both their brand and customers as possible.

This revolution of digital advancement follows the constant developments in technology. The increased capability of mobile devices alongside the availability of interconnected technology has allowed for anyone, in any business, to build a digital ecosystem for their brand with relative ease. Instead of relying on the traditional direct line between brand and consumer, any business can connect with customers across many different channels and in the same way can allow customers to connect with them.

Essentially, digital ecosystems have developed from disconnected digital channels into a single system that encompasses all of the advantages of those channels, and more. With the addition of AI technology, virtual assistants, and bots that literally do the communicating for us, anyone not taking advantage of interconnected systems will quickly fall behind. While several years ago brands were starting to realise that multiple digital channels were useful to have alongside a simple website, today those channels are not optional. We are living in a digital age where, because of how quickly technology is advancing, there is no excuse for a brand not to be available online. The consumer base expects to be able to find your brand and immediately communicate with you, via the quickest form of communication possible – the digital.

The Future of Digital Ecosystems

Though the idea of an interconnected system on a large scale might seem futuristic, complex digital services are already here. For example, the home assistant speaker systems such as Alexa and Google Home encompass a wide range of digital services, from a personal assistant, music streaming, online shopping, weather, and news. The other important thing that these systems do? They gather information, they learn what the customers like and don’t like. They are, in a sense, a very clever digital ecosystem that allows anyone to claim their own piece of personalised digital space and help provide the information to make the next system even more streamlined to the needs and wants of the customer. Claiming digital space has become and will continue to be increasingly important for brands. With this continued emphasis on building more digital connections, a digital ecosystem helps to allow brands to focus on long term strategy and success instead of juggling infrastructure management and responsibilities.

What does this mean for Your Brand?

As businesses move more and more towards digital platforms as a means to grow their brand, it is important to take advantage of the means available to create a digital ecosystem. The digital transformation of the business world has changed the way in which information is shared, and therefore it is important to be a part of this collaborative system.
So, what should you be looking at when you start building a system for your brand?

  1. It is important to create an environment that allows for open and collaborative communication with your customers. The ecosystem you create should be focussed on listening to and addressing the needs of your customers by paying attention to what they speak about and who they speak to. This communication should also extend to other companies in connected industries that could potentially benefit your brand.
  2. Much like environmental ecosystems, digital ecosystems are dynamic systems that are dependent on everything within them to survive and develop. Therefore, the system that you create needs to encourage constant innovation, and your brand has to remain easily adaptable to change.
  3. It is crucial to invest in available technology in order to stay ahead. Platforms such as Sprout Social allow for the combination of current and upcoming technology in one place, which creates the perfect, pre-formed core of a digital ecosystem.

In encouraging the growth of a digital ecosystem for your company you are essentially opening up your brand to conversations that can only benefit you and your consumers. By being prepared for the fast paced development of the digital sphere you will be able to take advantage of new technologies and innovations as they emerge.