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Ecosystems, eXperience, and Your Start-Up

Understanding the ecosystems of your customers and their brand eXperience with your Start-Up, as well as your own systems, is a key to creating connection for mutually-beneficial business.

Defining ecosystems

Ecosystems are interdependent individual parts that interact and work together to form a community. Think of a residential neighborhood comprised of houses that have utilities (water, electric power, waste services), common roads, and facilities. This community is interdependent on each of its’ parts.

Smaller ecosystems make up larger ones. For example, the algae feeds the fish which populate the water which feeds the plants which oxygenate the planet… the light bulbs in houses are powered by local power plants that are connected to regional power grids that create a national network of electricity you can see from space… the people around a table who collaborate on a project that generates new opportunities and revenues by delivering value to customers that power a business… in short, ecosystems are everywhere.

For our purposes, we are talking about the individual, social, technical, and brand ecosystems that influence customer attention and behavior as well as deliver an exceptional eXperience with your Start-Up. Ecosystems influence customer – and employee – expectations and eXperiences. The result of how these ecosystems connect in and through your Start-Up, as well as how effectively you streamline your operations, ultimately decides the fate of your company.

Why? Because if any part of your business’ ecosystem is out of alignment, your business is losing opportunities, customers and revenues to your competition. It’s the natural law of enterprise. Deliver better eXperiences for more customer value through innovation, efficiency and systems - or your competitor will.

Brand eXperiences are now measured by the last best eXperience a customer had with ANY brand so enterprises of all sizes and levels of maturity are competing on a level playing field. Your customer will evaluate you based on what household name brands do, from Ikea to Amazon to Southwest Airlines to Netflix. The processes and deliverables of those brands are now the benchmarks by which your customers are evaluating their eXperience with your Start-Up.

Customer ecosystems center around their priorities – buying insurance, getting pet care, booking travel, etc. What a brand does is make their priorities happen faster, easier, smoother, more affordably, etc. If the brand doesn’t do that, or the customer has a negative (or even marginal) eXperience or, worst of all, their trust is broken, the customer votes with their dollars.

For example, artificial intelligence (AI) combined with edge computing (where data is processed nearer to its source) means things happen nearly instantaneously. A customer can purchase your solution from their smart watch while on the go or run a team meeting using video chat on a tablet while sitting in a coffee shop. The customer translates these kinds of digital eXperiences personally into the “Internet of Me”, which reflects your customers’ ecosystems.

Each brand and buying eXperience becomes an ecosystem within the customer’s ecosystem. This might be the secret to capitalism – if your brand ecosystem is better than anybody else’s brand ecosystem, your Start-Up gets to live in your customer’s ecosystem.

Your Start-Up must answer one key question to assure success and differentiation in today’s saturated marketplace:

Is your Start-Up ready to deliver seamless customer- and employee-centric eXperiences?

The Customer Buying Journey and your Start-Up’s Ecosystem

When customers are buying a solution to solve a problem or meet a need, they first becomes aware of their need and look to find a solution. When they find a viable potential solution, they evaluate it by trying it (or a few) out. When they like what they eXperience, they buy the solution and start using it. When they’re successful because of that solution, they want to share how they did it so they become brand advocates. In marketing-speak, that is “the big pay-off.”

Once your customer becomes an advocate, you still have to continue to earn their business and be worthy of their trust. So you don’t get to a peak eXperience with them only to coast… because nobody gets to coast now.

The customer determines the value of your Start-Up (or any brand) as a solution provider. That means your Start-Up is always adapting to meet evolving customer perceptions while maintaining all your systems and structures and processes.

From your Start-Up’s point of view, your customer is everything (which is the exact opposite for customers who don’t care so much about brands.) The business ecosystem includes everything from keeping the lights on to serving customers to facilitating employee performance to working with partners to meeting regulatory compliance and much, much more.

Your Start-Up is promising and delivering value, taking into consideration all kinds of factors throughout operations – from keeping technology current to planning for the as-yet-unknown future.

Even more, your Start-Up has a second pool of customers to keep happy – internal employees and users. Happy employees mean greater profits because of reduced turnover, reduced recruiting and training, and more longer-term benefit from eXperience and training. At the same time, employees need to continue to deliver on their value – because, in today’s fast-paced business environment, nobody gets to coast anymore (including employees).

Much of this is happening behind the scenes as customers and employees don’t see all that goes into the business ecosystem. Beyond your Start-Up ecosystem are all the fast-developing technologies that will impact business in the future—this is just what is working now.

Altogether, the larger Start-Up ecosystem is about your customers’ ecosystems and their buying journey combined with your brand’s ecosystems, structures, processes, and considerations. The pressure is on your Start-Up because you must seamlessly meet your customer where they are in their buying journey to cultivate a relationship. That happens through technology, based on data, which must be gathered responsibly and then converted into actionable insights.

If a business has legacy technology investments, or technical debt, which might be an aging customer relationship management system or any other part of their infrastructure, there might be problems extracting the data, maintaining the system, or integrating it with newer technology. It can get quite messy for the IT staff, and it isn’t particularly pretty for the line of business and marketing people either.

The next big question for your Start-Up is:


Is your big business ecosystem in good working order?

7 Ways to Assess Your Start-Up’s eXperience and Ecosystem

To assess how your Start-Up is doing in preparing for and delivering great customer and employee eXperiences with your current ecosystem, here are seven specific questions to consider.

1. Can your Start-Up meet real-time demands?

Business likes speed, and your Start-Up needs to not only respond to business opportunities but anticipate faster. Customers are savvy and expect real-time, personalized service. Your internal teams, including marketing, business development, customer relationship managers, need real-time information to be proactive. Your leaders need real-time performance information to make more informed business growth decisions. With edge computing capabilities, there should be no issue with getting your team the real-time data they need to better serve your audiences.

2. Is your data clean?

Bad data will give you bad intelligence, which is especially true when extracting legacy data from aging systems. Your data holds the keys to sustainable business success in that your business insights (and resulting decisions and actions) are only as good as your data. The data you gather should be usable and not corrupt other systems. And you need to have data governance policies and processes established to ensure on-going data quality. Make sure your data is integrated so you can get actionable insights from it.

3. Is your Start-Up brand eXperience consistently awesome?

Customer eXperience is your only sustainable advantage in business. It is a key differentiator from your competition. It’s not just about what you do and how you do it but how your customer perceives and eXperiences your brand.

•      Your Start-Up offers value through core capabilities, innovative solutions, and customer relationships.

•      Technology delivers part of your Start-Up’s eXperience, including sharing the brand promise through social media marketing, email nurturing sequences, and video tutorials and onboarding. 

•      Your brand eXperience should be consistently exceptional across all channels, regardless of your customer’s touchpoint, where they are located, or the device they use to access your Start-Up’s information, teams, or deliverables.

4. Is your Start-Up using edge computing?

Edge computing, which uses cloud-based solutions, offer reduced latency in processing your data along with scalability that matches your Start-Up’s data usage and needs. This kind of technology is cost- and resource-effective because you only pay for what you use, you can expand as needed, you don’t need to buy or maintain hardware or use staff time to maintain and upgrade the system. Cloud-based solutions are always current with no need to deploy IT resources to update or maintain them. Even more, your teams can access the information they need from anywhere they are working, which means your business can happen faster.

5. Are employees able to deliver their optimal contribution?

Your employees need to be able to function at peak performance in a frictionless way so your Start-Up makes the most of their capabilities. That means your employees need to be able to access their digital workspace from any device, anywhere, anytime. Systems should be user-friend, have intuitive navigation to minimize the learning curve, and compress the time between onboarding and productivity. Employees should be able to collaborate easily without worrying about version control, security, or permissions. IT staff should be able to manage systems remotely and rely on built-in security measures to protect your network. Processes and workflows need to “just work” vs. employees having to use workarounds or being frustrated with their technology. In fact, studies show that the right technology can be a strategy to support employee retention and reduce staff churn.

6. Is your solution built for agility?

Agility means having the capability to adapt with opportunities.

  • If your solution offer modules, they need to be extendable so you can refine them over time.
  • Applications and processes should link into a larger network, or ecosystem, that can evolve with your business growth.
  • Your Start-Up needs to position for scalability in serving more people as you attract them. 
  • Your Start-Up needs to be able to innovate, then deliver, new solutions to meet changing customer needs and market dynamics.
  • Your teams need to be able to reuse applications and use all software features to leverage their time and your investments.

7. Are you making the most of your data by integrating your infrastructure?

When your data is not integrated throughout your infrastructure, you will get fragmented information which can cost your Start-Up opportunities, customers, partners, and, ultimately, revenue. Data exchanges need to be seamless for unified communications and a full picture of what’s happening in your Start-Up. Processes and workflows should be streamlined for efficiency and reducing the potential for human error by being able to access all the needed data. Connecting your data sources means you can get better business intelligence by seeing across your Start-Up the results of individual and team performance, customer preferences and behaviors, and solution constraints and upgrades. Uplevel your ecosystem by integrating your data.

A Systematic Approach to Ensuring Marketing Ecosystem Viability

The best way to ensure you are covering all the bases is to use a system. The SavvyX Methodology can help your Start-Up build a solid foundation to optimize your return on investment (ROI). You don’t need to create spreadsheets, figure out next steps, or find a way to guide your team through needed processes because all that is ready for you to use in do-it-yourself Recipes and Templates.

If you haven’t seen the SavvyX Methodology yet, check it out now

About Lynn Scheurell

Lynn Scheurell is an authority on strategic business growth. Lynn is known for her unique perspective, positive empowering mindset, and abilities as a high-value communicator. A natural teacher, she translates complex concepts into simple clarity for practical insight and meaningful connections and relevant eXperiences. 

Photo: Photo by Vardan Papikyan on Unsplash