During our time of disruption, complexity and uncertainty, “[b]usinesses must pursue innovative, agile business models to remain competitive and grow outside their traditional core business – and many perceive ecosystems as a strong opportunity to do so” (Accenture). But what is an ecosystem?
Wikipedia’s broad (ecological) definition goes:
“An ecosystem is a community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system.”
According to the awarded HBR article titled “Predators and Prey: A New Ecology of Competition” by James F. Moore, a business ecosystem refers to “[a]n economic community supported by a foundation of interacting organizations and individuals—the organisms of the business world.”
J. Bradford DeLong, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, further elaborated the concept as “a more productive set off processes for developing and commercializing new technologies”.
Okay then, what about video ecosystem?
DeLong’s take on ecosystem can well be applied to video ecosystems, but instead of discussing the innovation and collaboration for new tech, a video ecosystem’s raison d’être is the development of new knowledge wrapped in video format. It is all about sharing knowledge. Playfully following the Wikipedia definition, a video ecosystem could be framed as
a community (or a cluster of interconnected micro-communities) of living organisms – people – in conjunction with the information components (i.e. videos and data) of their environment, interacting as a system within an owned and operated platform.
Platform, data, talent and expertise
The natural habitat for a video ecosystem is video platform, which serves as the environment for interaction between organisations and individuals. Hence, implementing a video platform is the starting point but no ends in itself.
A functioning video ecosystem is created in cooperation and should comprise data on which the content is based (and which offers insight on the content), talent who create and deliver the content, and expertise that serves as the fundament for the ecosystem.
In the ecosystem framework, the valuable expertise of employees, clients, stakeholders and suppliers can be readily harnessed to help reach new disruptive growth opportunities for all the players involved.
Lead from the top, empower from within
An ecosystem initiative should be lead from the top in terms of deciding KPIs, strategy for the function and usage of the platform, the players involved in the ecosystem, and responsibilities for platform and community management.
Within the ecosystem, however, information and leadership is multidirectional. A video ecosystem is at its best when all the players involved – company internal and external – are equally empowered to contribute to the cycle of content and knowledge as both viewers and producers.
The actual content may range largely, and what actually constitutes as good content is particular to each company and purpose. Nevertheless, an “ecosystemic” approach to content creation and distribution is a great way to mine for data, talent and content – in any given case.
From top-down to mesh communications
The traditional – outdated – conception of a video ecosystem is a “binary system” comprising internal (e.g. intranet) and external (often, social media) video channels. Many companies work in this manner in terms of their (video) communications strategy.
But in order to attain real opportunities that “ecosystemic” interaction provides, the external channels ought to be annexed to the internal platform with similar manageability and safety as the internal ones.
Social media allows very little ownership over the content and the environment, or safety for meaningful interaction. Marketing and branding aside, your professional contents really have no place on YouTube and the likes.
Social media, quite oxymoronically, is seldom very social in cases of organisations addressing their stakeholders and clients. Rather, it is another means of broadcast; from one to the passive many.
A video ecosystem enables secure, uninhibited interaction between all the players within the ecosystem. It converts the top-down to mesh communications.
Why should you adopt an ecosystem strategy?
Through an ecosystem initiative, a company has the opportunity to position itself as the innovator, leading and nurturing a culture of creativity, innovation and knowledge.
Besides cultural gains, an ecosystem strategy helps companies branch beyond their four walls and across the value chain. The best available knowledge may well stem from outside the organisation. Hence, closing up leads to risks of being the one that gets disrupted.
As Accenture’s Michael Lyman, Ron Ref and Oliver Wright asserted, “[i]n today’s competitive business landscape, companies cannot go it alone. They need the help of partners that bring unique capabilities, data, customers and industry knowledge that can be a source of innovation.”
It’s do or die.
In short, companies that adopt an ecosystem strategy gain in engagement through participation, innovation, new content assets, new growth opportunities, data and talent. The implementation of an ecosystem is by no means a quick-n-simple task but let me ask you, do you think you can grow without?
Call to action
Struu is designed to support the building of video ecosystems for organisations. The Struu platform is based on creating an ecosystem of Communities; channels which are broadly manageable and extendable outside the organisation walls.
With Struu, companies are able to easily involve their staff, clients, suppliers, stakeholders and subcontractors in the exchange of knowledge and expertise.
By Eero Alasuutari
The author, besides acting as the Chief Creative Officer for Struu, is a has-been pop star with a love for football, cooking and literature.
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