Grow  your Ecosystem  Business Platform via your Apps & Integrations

Table of Contents

What is an ecosystem business platform?

EY Global Alliance and Ecosystem Leader Greg Sarafin defines an ecosystem business platform as follows:

“A business ecosystem is a purposeful business arrangement between two or more entities (the members) to create and share in collective value for a common set of customers. Every business ecosystem has participants, and at least one member acts as the orchestrator of the participants.” 

The awesome power of an ecosystem business platform lies in the ability to harness the skills, services, and products of your network of partners to deliver innovative, collaborative, end-to-end solutions guaranteed to hit your customers’ sweet spot – and ensure that your product sticks in their tech stack long-term.

 As Allan Adler of Digital Bridge Partners adds, you don’t even need to be a ‘pure platform company’ to reap the rewards of an ecosystem platform model. “If you platform any aspect of your offering, that is, that you allow others to co-innovate on that platform, you are essentially engaging in a platform business model.”

Building a platform ecosystem around apps and integrations helps your business grow

B2B buyers today prefer to purchase end-to-end, integrated solutions from a single provider or app ecosystem marketplace. That’s why encouraging your partners to integrate their apps, products, and systems with your tech is key to growing your market share and scaling sustainably.

 Research by Vendasta confirms the power of offering customers multiple integrated solutions under your ecosystem umbrella:

“Selling an SMB 1 product has a retention rate of only 30% after 2 years. Selling that SMB just 1 more product showed an increased retention rate of nearly 20%, while selling an SMB 4 products shows a retention rate of 80%.”

The more integrated apps and solutions your customers can buy from your app ecosystem or marketplace, the more valuable you are to them; and the less likely they are to churn.

 Integrating with your partners’ apps and solutions helps your business – and wider ecosystem – grow by:

  •  Increasing your product’s stickiness by seamlessly embedding it in your customer’s workflow and thereby increasing their productivity;
  • Increasing the depth and breadth of your product usage by encouraging your clients to use your tool to solve a wider range of problems hand-in-hand with your partners’ tools;
  • Improving product distribution and visibility by putting co-branded, innovative, joint solutions in front of shared customers.

What to consider when designing your ecosystem platform

Not sure which aspects of your business represent an opportunity to create an ecosystem platform? We recommend asking yourself these three valuable questions suggested by Avanish Sahai:

Am I making it easy for my customers to do something important?

Do I have a lot of valuable data to share with partners?

Can I automate a broader process and, by doing so, significantly drive more value?

Don’t make the mistake of only focusing on the tech aspect of designing a business ecosystem platform. Take Mika Ruokonen’s valuable advice to also focus on other vital business aspects, like customer acquisition, customer value creation, business concept development and validation, and culture and mindset change. Effectively executing a platform business model requires putting your ecosystem at the forefront of every aspect of your business.

How to optimize packaging of apps and integrations to grow your ecosystem business platform

When considering how best to package apps and integrations to grow your ecosystem business platform, keep in mind that B2B tech buyers today are much more comfortable buying through marketplaces than their predecessors were. In fact, McKinsey reports that 70-80% of B2B decision-makers prefer remote human interactions and digital self-service over more traditional in-person purchasing interactions. Marketplaces are here to stay.

 Here are our top recommendations for packaging apps and integrations:

  •     Sell your own products and your partners’ products in a B2B-specific apps ecosystem marketplace.

 The best B2B app marketplaces take the friction out of the sales process by allowing customers to browse info-packed product listings and partner profiles, watch video demos, engage in live chats, make secure payments, and access a personalized dashboard with full visibility of purchased apps, billing cycles, and upcoming renewals.

  •     Pre-bundle your apps with integrated partner apps in ‘best seller’ packages.

 Bundling apps and solutions takes the guesswork out of the buying process and enables customers to purchase holistic, end-to-end solutions in just a few clicks. Remember, when your product seamlessly integrates with your customer’s other favorite apps, they’re more likely to purchase it in the first place, and continue using it in the long-term.

  •     Consider trial-based or freemium offers to build interest.

 Trial-based and freemium offers can be useful packaging techniques to attract new customers, as the initial price barrier is removed. Great onboarding, a stellar user experience, and quick and effective customer support are key to retaining customers that sign up on a trial basis or upgrading freemium users to paid accounts.

 

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