In “Increasing Returns and the New World of Business” (July 1996, Harvard Business ReviewW. Brian Arthur tells us:

“Technologies exist not alone but in an interlinked web, or ecology. It is important to understand the ecologies a company’s products belong to. Success or failure is often decided not just by the company but by the success or failure of the web it belongs to. Active management of such a web can be an important magnifier of increasing returns.

This concept applies not only to “increasing returns” but also finding and keeping customers.

Ecosystem Strategy applies to innovation and marketing:

  • Strategists & Business Owners: Understand your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses and find marketspace entry points with the “least resistance.”
  • Senior Executives: Make your SBUs accountable for results – we help you assess the impact of your business in the marketspace
  • R&D Leaders: Discover and track the new technologies and capabilities for the future
  • M&A: Measure the ecosystem impact of various potential acquisition targets
  • Marketers: Optimize the impact of every dollar you spend online by focusing on the right audience at the right time in the right place
  • Product Developers: What are the unmet needs for the customer? What are the  jobs-to-be-done?
  • Product Marketers: Find the most effective means to launch your new product in your target marketspace
  • Sales Executives: Create demand generation programs that beat all previous performance benchmarks
  • Alliance Managers: Discover the best candidates for partnerships – in technology, marketing, and product development
  • PR & Media Executives: Watch the diffusion of a “story” in real time and make decisions affecting your company’s reputation


In our work we explore 6 primary types of ecosystems:

  1. Company
  2. Competitor
  3. Capability
  4. Category
  5. Customer
  6. Culture/Zeitgeist 

Category ecosystems exist in all shapes and stripes.  We’ve defined and classified these ecosystem categories by purpose or application. See: Ecosystem Taxonomy: How to Classify Ecosystems