For example, US giant Walmart3 is partnering very closely with start-ups as it looks to pioneer the future of retail. Its Store No. 8 project, which was formed in 2017, incubates companies that are developing retail-focused next-gen solutions, incorporating emerging tech such as AI and virtual reality. Through this initiative, the incubated companies get to tap into Walmart’s powerhouse of resources, while the retail giant gets to fast-track its retail tech ambitions – a win-win.
In the automotive industry, we’re seeing similar collaborations between start-ups and large enterprises, such as Ford and Lyft’s autonomous vehicle partnership.4 The main goal is that Ford and Lyft will be able to dispatch a self-driving vehicle to customers through the Lyft app. For now, the pair are building a technology platform and are using human-driven cars to test it out.
Harnessing the power of start-ups is an important ingredient in digital ecosystems because of the specialist focus they can place on a single technology. Developing an ecosystem of start-ups is a sophisticated way to maximize the value of these partnerships.
4. Robust contracts and internal processes
In the excitement of developing new ecosystems and partnerships around cutting-edge technology and human-centric outcomes, it is easy for more basic considerations, like intellectual property, contracts and processes, to become afterthoughts. But their importance cannot be overstated.
Even with the best will in the world, ecosystems will not succeed unless they are sealed with solid contractual arrangements, covering the nuts and bolts of the agreement: shared IP, commercials, distribution, customer support, data processing, legal details, personnel and so forth. This can be difficult for companies – especially if they’re orchestrating an ecosystem for the first time, or are among companies of a significantly different size, or with a different culture.