Why Ecosystem Mapping?
Focus on a product often leads to tunnel vision.
This is a bigger problem in Enterprise where teams are tightly funded to focus on a part of the whole solution and are shrewdly judged against commitments made at the beginning of the funding cycle. This leads to silos where leaders focus more on meeting commitments, rather than being able to focus on outcomes delivered to a customer. This often gets called a project-centric approach.
Ecosystem Mapping Canvas allows a team to systematically realize which system their product depends on and which system depends on their product. This ensures that the team is aware of the value tributaries and value distributors. This awareness ensures that these dependencies that affect end customers are always in consideration. The Ecosystem Mapping Canvas also helps teams realize the potential of building a platform rather than a singular product.
It is part of my suite of innovation canvases. The complete (and growing list) is composed of: Ecosystem Mapping Canvas, Elevator Pitch Canvas, Experiment Canvas, Idea Canvas, Product Management Canvas.
Introducing The Ecosystem Mapping Canvas
The Ecosystem Mapping Canvas is a strategic management tool. It allows you to discover an ecosystem around your product as to make it a value multipler.
This is where you list all systems that act as value tributaries to your product. So list data sources, platforms for which you are consumers and systems that hand over customer experience to you. In Enterprise systems these could be internal applications and in consumer product setting these could be external applications.
This is where you list all systems that act as value distributaries of your product. So list data sinks, platforms for which consumers from you and systems to whom you hand over customer experience. In Enterprise systems these could be internal applications and in consumer product setting these could be external applications.
Are you focusing on security, scanning of data for PII (Personal Identifiable Information), ways to ensure restricted access to customer data among employees and other ways to ensure internal control? This is where you list all systems and processes to ensure that data and personal information is safe while it is in motion or is at rest in your product.
It is very important to focus on relations that are specific to your product and generic like PCI-DSS, GDPR or CCPA. This is where you list all systems and processes to ensure compliance and checks.
Discovering Platforms from Ecosystem
Once you have mapped the whole ecosystem, analysis in the following lines can help identify opportunities to build a platform. The definition of a Platform in this context is a software product that allows multiple (and often competing) products to derive value from it and often the value is an outcome of multiple (and often competing) products interacting with it.
- What features can be added that multiply value to those listed in “Out” and they will pay for it
- What features can be added that create new value just for those listed in “Out” (as against to the original customers) and they will pay for it
- What value can be abstracted out and provided as service to a new set of stakeholders in the same domain as existing ones
- What value can be abstracted out and provided as service to a new set of stakeholders in the different domain but same problem statement
- What can be done to ensure data from each partner is properly partitioned to ensure safety, security and compliance
Get Ecosystem Mapping Canvas
If you have used this version of the Ecosystem Mapping Canvas to articulate and develop your idea, do consider sharing a non-confidential version with me. I will post it here along with attribution. The more we share, the more we learn!