Ecosystems - Are they the key to the future success of your business?

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Ecosystems - Are they the key to the future success of your business?

SIA’S Workforce Solutions Ecosystem
www.staffingindustry.com © Crain Communications Inc


The concept of a business ecosystem was first coined in the early 1990s by James Moore, but the term ‘ecosystem’ originally applied only to the natural world, meaning “a community of living organisms in conjunction with the non-living components of their environment, interacting as a system”.[1]

In the business world it is now more often used to describe an array of technology products connected to each other ( through an API integration or other method) to a central hub or platform around which many areas of business are conducted.

The human element

However, this definition leaves out a VERY important ingredient – the people that interact and do business through such a technological platform. Without people as part of the system, the technology is meaningless – it is like a stage without actors –  and the business ecosystem would not function (at least in the current era where AI and robots have not yet taken control of every element of work and production as envisioned in Terminator!).[2]

This need for the human element in a business ecosystem, means it has more in common with natural world ecosystems – such as coral reefs or rainforests – than you’d think.

In business, the technology provides the ‘non-living component’ (equivalent to the air, water or land) and the people (workers, clients etc) provide the ‘living’ element. Both living and non-living aspects are vital to the functioning of an ecosystem, be it a business or a coral reef.

Without people as part of the system, the technology is meaningless – it is like a stage without actors.

Also, as pointed out by James Osborne in his recent talk entitled ‘Ecosystem of Excellence’ [3] , the interdependence between the various human roles in a business ecosystem mirrors that between the various species in a natural ecosystem. In the example of Pixid’s talent acquisition platform myPixid for instance; the recruitment suppliers, their clients and the contingent staff supplied through the system are highly interdependent. In such a scenario, the business relationship between the participants in the staffing process is as vital as the recruitment technology itself.

However, that may be where the similarity ends.

You cannot simply ‘backup’ a coral reef, for instance. Once the coral is bleached, the reef-based ecosystem cannot function properly (for several years at least) and there is danger of permanent ecosystem collapse. By contrast, a technology-based ecosystem can be far more robust. Even if a server fails in one location, data can be backed up and replicated instantly across geographies – supplying and processing the data seamlessly in such a way that the living creatures of the ecosystem (the workers, employers and clients) would be able to continue interacting and going about their business as if nothing had happened.

Bolstering your resilience

That being said, just as a natural ecosystem is vulnerable to attack from plastic pollution, deforestation and climate change – a tech-based business ecosystem is potentially vulnerable to cyber-attack, computer viruses and other forms of malicious interference. This makes robust data security measures imperative, especially in an age where such attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated; hence Pixid Group have gone to great efforts to achieve and uphold the ISO-27001 data security standard as part of our ongoing security policy. With these high standards of security, we can provide you with a robust and reliable hub around which to build a talent acquisition ecosystem, in conjunction with your existing software.

However, the resilience and reliability of the human element of your business ecosystem is not something Pixid, or any other technology provider can guarantee. We can only achieve this by working together to preserve the natural ecosystems on which we all depend – for our business to function as well as ‘for every breath of air we take and every mouthful of food we eat’.[4] Only then can the business ecosystem, even one built on the best technology available, offer us the bright and prosperous future we all desire.

By Daniel Kieve, Pixid UK & Ireland