What exactly is a Technology Ecosystem?

By: Intelligent Automation Week

No industry is as fast-moving as the Intelligent Automation industry. New tools and technologies are constantly appearing and new opportunities are always becoming available. For any organisation trying to mature in the Intelligent Automation space, it can be difficult to know which to take and where to venture next. It’s easy to implement one technology after another without thinking cohesively about where they fit with each other. However, this approach is leading to a lot of missed opportunities when it comes to advancements in technology. This is where a technology ecosystem can help you to utilise digital opportunities within your organisation.

Fewer than half of companies that were rated as ‘average performers’ operate with a technology ecosystem.’ 

A technology ecosystem is defined as a system that utilises digital space and tools and, can serve as a bridge between all areas of an organisation – internally and externally. One ecosystem does not have to be the same as the next but it creates a standardised area in which a variety of different technologies, teams, and processes can work together to create a more cohesive and utilised organisational environment. Having a fully utilised technology ecosystem allows you to select technologies that work individually and collaboratively. With the introduction of disruptive technologies such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, establishing a technology ecosystem is the best way to ensure that your tools are supporting each other and ensuring that each reaches their highest potential.

Established Definition

An established definition of a Technology Ecosystem, provided by Financial Times includes;

 Defined by core components made by the platform owner and completed by applications made by autonomous companies in the periphery.
 Offers solutions comprising a large system of use that the original platform owner created and solves any important technical problem within an industry.
 Easy to connect or build upon the core solution in order to expand the system of use and allow new and even unanticipated end uses.
 Attached with a core firm's products, which is limited in value when used alone but substantially increases in value when used with complementary applications.

From organisation to organisation, how one develops their ecosystem will be completely different from the next. It’s important to take the time to understand how your organisation works before implementing your ecosystem. But, learning from other people’s experiences can help paint an idea of what steps you may need to take in order to be successful. An example of the process is from Ericsson who have been establishing their ‘Intelligent Operations’ programme.

In Action: Ericsson

‘Ericsson has been ahead of the curve when it comes to RPA but has now begun to move into Intelligent Automation by creating an established technology ecosystem. Ericsson’s ‘Intelligent Operations’ programme sees them combining automation with Machine Learning and NLP to develop a high-level chatbot that will be able to speak to their customers. This chatbot will comprehend complex text and convert it into action. Originally, the unstructured text was processes manually by front-end engineers but Ericsson is trying to bring structure to this data through NLP. This has saved them a lot of human effort and hours. Alongside this, they have been developing their Machine Learning capabilities in the move from 4G to 5G. As a lot of new devices and applications become available on the cloud, the management of a significant number of systems can be an arduous process. Ericsson is using Machine Learning to identify issues within their network and applications. A combination of technologies is helping to create a forward organisation that can efficiently meet the needs of their internal staff, stakeholders and customers.’

How to Build your Ecosystem

As mentioned, creating a technology ecosystem is almost entirely based on needs, requirements and goals of your organisation. However, there are certain steps you should take to ensure that your ecosystem is sustainable, efficient and effective.

 Rethink your strategy: By establishing a concrete strategy, defining the level of risk you're willing to take and understanding the market, you will be able to define what direction you want your ecosystem to take. You will be able to discover technologies that are disrupting the market and where exactly they can bring value to your organisation.

Develop an infrastructure: A technology ecosystem sees several dynamic technologies working together in real-time. To support this, organisations will have to design new integration system. Data catalogues will have to be expanded and there should be a standardised structure in place.

Reinvent customer-facing processes: If you're in a customer-facing organisation, it may be hard to discover technical issues among the vast number of existing technologies. Creating SLAs that define issues is a crucial step in ensuring that the ecosystem is working; especially where partners and third-parties are concerned. 

Define parameters: Due to an extended infrastructure, internal policies and processes will need to include partners. Security standards need to be defined and agreed upon in a way that lays out the integration process. This may raise other legal questions, including intellectual property and data ownership, so it is important that all of these areas are defined and discussed before the creation takes place.

Have an open mind: There tends to be a focus on protecting systems and ensuring that they run well before rolling them out but the new digital world demands organisations be agile. This requires organisation to think about how they can continuously add to and, develop their ecosystems while having it functioning within the business. Spending a long time developing a concrete system is only going to be counterproductive.

Invest in new capabilities: With the continuous emergence of technologies, it can be hard to keep up with the quick-paced industry. It's important to invest in new talents, such as infrastructure and stack engineers as well as the technologies that are appearing on the market. Teams should work closely with the business to work to fit these new capabilities into the current ecosystem.

A technology ecosystem is enabling organisations to make advanced steps when it comes to digital transformation. For those who want to get ahead of the game when it comes to technology, an established and efficient ecosystem is a must. Interested in learning more about developing your own ecosystem and where each technology plays into it? Download our exclusive FREE Guide to the Intelligent Automation Ecosystem here.

Sources: 'Where to Automate?' by Intelligent Automation Week 2018 and Rajwinder Singh (Ericsson)