Business ecosystem design – Why is it important?

Author —Sreelakshmi P. S8 mins read24 Jan 2023

Global business leaders now look toward adopting a business ecosystem design, which is an interconnected set of services, that helps a customer achieve their needs across various sectors through an integrated experience.

Organizations have welcomed the shift to the business ecosystem model, with over 71% of enterprises ready for these integrated ecosystems. According to a Mckinsey study, by 2030, the value of these integrated business ecosystems could add up to 25% of the total economy, rising from the 1-2% share of today. Enterprises across sectors are already embracing this shift, with the financial market acknowledging these changes, accounting for around $70 trillion of the global economy pool. The business ecosystem design paves the way for the creation of new products and services, satisfying the core business goals of an organization, creating revenue streams, and constructing a value pool.


However, picking a business ecosystem strategy is not a cakewalk. To taste success and generate inter-connected services, the enterprise needs to fulfill the needs of its users across various sectors. The task is complex, demanding a cohesive strategy and a design-first approach.

An example of a business ecosystem

Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and  Disney+ are examples of corporations that use a business ecosystem. Various bodies like streaming services, authorities, studios, internet service providers, and more have to come together for these companies to function. Streaming service providers derive economic benefits from their interaction with these different players. They constantly collaborate and interact with different entities, like studios or independent artists for content, cloud platforms for their storage libraries, authorities for compliance and regulations, banks for payments, and more.

What is the importance of design in the business ecosystem?

Ecosystems don’t build themselves. One has to understand who the potential ecosystem partners are along with their skills, and then design their interactions, their roles, and how to deal with competition.

The ecosystem value must start with the customer’s viewpoint and produce a set of values and experiences they agree upon. To build an effective business ecosystem design, the organization must consider the three vital domains, which are the customers, sectors, partners, and products and services, each having a paramount role to play. It’s time to ponder how you design a business ecosystem. Designing the ecosystem according to the customer’s needs helps the organization cater to the precise demands of the ever-evolving consumers.

What is a design-led approach business ecosystem model?

Following a business ecosystem strategy consists of three phases: defining the ecosystem, designing it, and building it. Now, the design-first approach benefits each of these stages via certain activities like design research, interaction design, user interface design, and service design.

From a customer perspective, the design-led approach of building a business ecosystem model is about envisioning the service experience they deliver and finding the scope of what services the organization can deliver. From a business perspective, designing an ecosystem boosts the customer experience by encouraging and motivating the team to sustain and evolve around the target. The design-first approach shapes the work culture of the organization by developing the teams at all levels.

Innovative and thoughtful implementation of the service design ensures that the ecosystem exceeds each sector of the industry and connects all aspects of the business to boost innovation.

The first step in taking any action is to understand its purpose. Similarly, before defining an ecosystem, define your goals, justify the upfront costs of this implementation, and convince the right partners. The value of the new ecosystem comes from eliminating the hindrances of the existing system. Issues like the higher cost of products or services, quality issues, delay, lack of trust, miscommunication, or unpredictability discourage customers from accepting your product or services.

The value proposition of the business ecosystem depends on the context. The value depends on the industry, geographies, and much more. A business must understand its goals, decide what kind of ecosystem they need, and what they expect it can achieve with the ecosystem before implementing it.

The design-led approach to shape the ecosystem

Business leaders often find it hard to choose the ecosystem or leverage the opportunities and benefits. But how do you design an ecosystem? To shape the business ecosystem strategies, you need focus and design-first effort in 3 major areas.

Figure the major trends

Social, technological, and economic trends influence customer behavior and influence their needs and demands for products or services they receive. Forecasting their needs is a powerful tool that a business demands. The designing team uses forecasting tools to identify consumer behavior and develop scenarios to understand the customer’s response to changes and how the organization can expand its product or services across sectors. The practice empowers the enterprise to understand the customers in-depth and connect with them effectively. The design-first approach offers distinct value to finding innovative and expansive solutions as they are more apt for creative thinking.

Identify the value pools

The focus of the ecosystem strategy must be on high growth aligning with the ambition and capabilities of the organization. The business can use design research methods like ethnographic studies, quantitative research for various instances, market sizing, and value-pool analysis. The study helps the organization in multiple use cases and customer segments, setting value for products and services and identifying areas to address them.

Understand and state the key value proposition

While migrating to ecosystems, many businesses fail to understand and leverage the advantages of capturing certain business propositions, which lie at the convergence of consumer data, market trends, client experience, business purpose, and vision. The design-led approach to ecosystem creation considers these values to generate a list of potential business propositions. Most importantly, the ecosystem does not limit these propositions to a particular market or sector. It spans across markets, reflecting consumer behavior trends. Based on existing business capabilities, consumer needs, and growth prospects, analyze the potential value proposition. Now, you can choose the key core value propositions for your ecosystem.

Who needs to be a part of the ecosystem? How does the business ecosystem work?

When you design the new ecosystem, keep the customer’s view in mind and deliver the value proposition and experience you agreed to. To achieve the goal, you must understand each player and their roles in the ecosystem, which consists of three domains:  consumers, sectors and partners, and products and services.


Understanding and predicting the consumer behavior of the future,  the enterprise designs its ecosystem to satisfy its needs. Mapping the customer journey is a core design activity that helps the enterprise envision the user experience from a consumer’s viewpoint, crafting each journey as an end-to-end experience.

Designing the service blueprint with journey mapping consists of the step-by-step operation of the ecosystem within and across channels from the perspective of customers, business operations, and employees. The role defines the shifts and changes in the company to support the ecosystem.

Sectors and partners

The ecosystem spans sectors, letting customers access various services or products. For example, a customer can purchase home appliances and get insurance, which is distinctively apart. The designer must comprehend the customer’s needs and create a journey they find easy to navigate. A seamless experience masks the complexity of the ecosystem, reflecting the designer’s creativity.

Each customer journey unfolds the seamless cross-sectoral experience of a customer. Taking the previous example, the journey defines how the customer seamlessly buys appliances only to find an insurance policy and ends up purchasing it. These cross-sectoral proposals include complex relationships that need to visualize their development.

Products and services

Having laid the groundwork for the ecosystem with in-depth research, customer surveys, journey mapping, and others. The company turns its attention to connected products and services. Connectivity is the core of the ecosystem, paving the way for a series of offerings.

Before building the ecosystem, the enterprise must test the system with the target customers. Given the scale of the ecosystem, the team of owners, designers, and organizational experts create a detailed roadmap, allowing the organization to enter the market quickly and get a step ahead.

Build the ecosystem

A business must create an agile and flexible ecosystem model that can continuously roll out new solutions, manage the entire portfolio of value propositions, handle failures, redirect the focus, and explore new areas.

The process includes various cultural shifts, which include the design of leaders in the transformation process. Isolating the design team brings barriers to creativity and innovation. Teaming up the designers with business strategists, developers, and product owners creates the scope for better problem-solving and shaping solutions.


Discipline and control are the mantras to building a successful ecosystem. An ecosystem without clarity in value propositions or with segments left out is bland and generic. An ecosystem helps businesses grow and scale up considerably. Begin with building smaller portions first, keeping an eye on the customer journey. Keen on learning more about the design-first approach to building an ecosystem model? Say hi to take your journey a step further.

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