From Full Metal Jacket
LOCKHART: Uh, we have a new directive from M.A.F. on this. In the future, in place of “search and destroy,” substitute the phrase “sweep and clear.” Got it?
JOKER: Got it. Very catchy.
What a great example of buzzwords and terminology that influence meaning and context. The terms we choose to use are powerful because they can change the scope and direction of an entire conversation. In IT we do select terms – very thoughtfully – to this end. And we do it all the time.
We may shift from product-specific names to terms that speak of offerings to expressions that characterize solutions – and we do it with ease.
I understand the subtle differences between choosing to talk about product versus an offering or a solution. The choice, and the subtle differences in the selection can have a potentially enormous impact on how a company is perceived in the market. The problem is that every so often, what feels like a buzzword and new marketing technology is something different and innovative – something that carries weight and warrants consideration.
For instance, the term RESTful API means more than just an interoperable interface; REST APIs open the world to a new way of thinking about building economies. Cloud is much more than hosted services, it a radical way of rethinking the relationships between consumers and providers.
Ecosystem Integration and Ecosystem Enablement are two more buzzworthy words that have so much more underneath them. It’s effortless to diminish both of these down into a new form of B2B integration. That’s understandable because B2B integration is an essential part of ecosystem integration and ecosystem enablement. B2B integration lives at the integration layer of allowing a company’s applications and systems to connect to the applications and systems of a business partner. Everything – from the physical connection to the governance of all of those transactions – rolls up into this category of B2B integration.
Take for example, EDI. EDI is a convenient and somewhat ubiquitous way of representing business documents such as purchase orders and acknowledgments. AS2 is a standard protocol that used to navigate and negotiate the communications and security requirements associated with the exchange of EDI, and other types of documents.
In more advanced environments companies can start to collect and correlate the metadata related to these business-centric document exchanges to proactively kick off processes to enhance these interactions using analytics based off of historical analysis. But then something interesting happens when I start to include e-commerce platforms used by smaller third-party businesses or even individuals into these exchanges.
For instance, I can log into an e-commerce platform hosted by my favorite retailer and determine when the items I want to buy are back in stock. I could look at data that suggest popularity, and in some cases, I could choose which supplier I want to buy from. Reputation information, logistics data, and suggestions could further play a part in my ultimate selection.
To enable these modern types of interactions that can quickly and organically grow without any interaction from “the channel master,” a different type of an integration platform is necessary. One that must enable:
- Point-to-point interactions between partners
- Management of those interactions
- The collection and analysis of those interactions, and most critically
- The extension of that information to a broader community of relevant partners
It is the extensibility of such platform that elevates the idea of ecosystem integration from buzz to a concept with gravity. Ecosystem enablement necessitates integration extension to the broader community of relevant partners such as logistics partners, e-commerce partners, individual buyers, social ranking sites and finally any other peripheral ecosystem. What makes it important, is that this is the heart of the business, the core of what defines the business, and the center of what drives revenue for the organization from a digital perspective.
This is new. This is more than just connection, transformation, application integration and back out. Ecosystem integration and ecosystem enablement do more than imply, they intrinsically entail the building and maintenance of continually growing and expanding communities. Participating in these communities means expanding the definition of currency to include information, reputation, and brokering.
Amazon didn’t just bring us the ability to buy products and track those sales and deliveries. It brought us a whole community of partners which we can leverage to influence toward better decisions and help others make improved choices. That is the power of an ecosystem.
And that’s more than just a buzzword. Got it. Very catchy.