Understanding the Value of Your Business Ecosystem

Adam Hughes
Enterprises are shifting focus to their business ecosystem to ensure seamless exchange of business data with trading partners, services, and SaaS applications.

Whether an organization needs to meet the many requirements of a trading partner or quickly onboard a new customer, time is of the essence. The sad reality is that despite all the strides that integration technology has made, many companies have yet to fully embrace integration and its IT and business benefits. These enterprises are still relying on the tried-and-true legacy environments that they are comfortable with, rather than exploring something new.

And hey, we get it. Who doesn’t have that comfy pair of slippers that you refuse to throw out? But eventually, those slippers get so chewed up by the dog and by time that they need to be replaced. In this day and age, you cannot waste employee resources on cobbling together ways to meet different integration requirements from a trading partner because they use a different protocol or non-standard data format. You need to expand your business ecosystem to places it’s never been before, and the way to do that is through a business ecosystem integration platform

Companies need to ensure that they can seamlessly exchange business data with all aspects of their ecosystems, from trading partners and customers to third-party vendors and SaaS applications. This is why your business ecosystem is the core of your organization, and without the right integration technology in place to handle it, you will not be serving the best needs of your ecosystem partners.

What is a Business Ecosystem?

There are a couple of different ways an enterprise can look at what it means when we throw out the term business ecosystem. The immediate thought is an ecosystem involves all of your trading partners and customers that you do business with. But a business ecosystem also includes an internal ecosystem that companies must have a full grasp of as well.

Internal Ecosystems

Organizations must have functionality that allows for the interoperability of their internal business systems and applications. From automated processes to end-to-end visibility, companies have extensive interaction requirements and need to move data between their disparate internal systems. Everything within an internal business must work cohesively, and for the greater good of the organization. 

External Ecosystems

An external ecosystem is when we refer to a digital network of trading partners, customers, and third-party vendors outside your four walls. Enterprises need the ability to efficiently exchange data to and from this ecosystem across multiple industries and geographies as well as across systems, applications, customers, and partners.

Business Ecosystem Example

One business ecosystem example is a manufacturer that must do business with its source vendors, suppliers, and R&D teams to make the product, its transportation and logistics carriers, a distribution partner, and various online marketplaces to sell it on, including Amazon, Facebook Marketplace, and its own e-commerce storefront. All these external B2B and cloud connections, however, create EDI and non-EDI data flows that must be integrated into its own internal ERP, TMS, WMS, and EDI systems. The result is an internal and external network of data sources spanning systems, applications, people, and devices. 

Advantages of Adopting a Business Ecosystem-Focused Strategy

The importance of connecting and improving relationships with your external ecosystem cannot be overstated. Cleo recently surveyed 100 IT decision-makers who are directly involved in the planning process for digital transformation. The respondents span multiple industries, such as supply chain, financial services, retail/e-commerce, healthcare, and more.

Most of those surveyed are fully aware of just how critical IT modernization is in their ability to drive revenue. As many as 95 percent surveyed say they maintain some form of ecosystem aspirations, but almost half (48 percent) said that modernizing their existing IT systems and applications is one of their biggest integration challenges. Upgrading legacy systems is so key to a successful modernization project that 81 percent said that replacing them will play a role in supporting emerging business initiatives. Add in here all those things you just said: Ecosystem integration improves partner onboarding time through prebuilt templates and connectors, enables you to modernize, etc.

Speeding up partner onboarding time is just one of the ways that integration technology can help your business ecosystem. Many enterprises struggle to onboard new customers due to customized requirements for new business flows, and it’s especially difficult for cloud and SaaS organizations to onboard new customers and support all their data needs.

The companies that are adopting an “outward-in” strategy, however, are reaping the advantages of business ecosystem integration. By utilizing prebuilt templates and connectors, partner onboarding time has never been quicker. Companies also can modernize their legacy environment because they have an integration platform that supports any new technologies they require. Additionally, business ecosystem integration helps consolidate disparate technologies, automate data transaction processing, and provide better visibility into your end-to-end data flows. 

Get Started with Business Ecosystem Integration

All of this sounds pretty great, right? So just how are you supposed to get started to see results from a highly enabled business ecosystem? An ecosystem integration platform allows you to say ‘yes’ to customers, regardless of their format, connector, protocol, or even SLA. Cleo delivers the platform necessary to secure and reliably support all your requirements. 

Cleo Integration Cloud provides seamless integration between your customers and back-end systems, end-to-end data governance and agility, as well as business insight through real-time visibility via reports and alerts. Rather than continuing to patch together integrations into your legacy environment, Cleo Integration Cloud is a single, cohesive platform that enables digital interactions across your entire business ecosystem. By taking an “outside-in” approach, enterprises can focus on delivering real business outcomes by improving the trading partner relationships that drive revenue. 


Access the 2019 State of Ecosystem and Application Report to learn how to develop your own business ecosystem strategy.

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