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From Amsterdam to Fort Lauderdale: A Tale of Two Summits (Part 1)

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Wednesday, March 6, 2019

It’s interesting how “business ecosystems”—a biology metaphor—first became widely used terminology in the digital arena of software and technology—not in the life sciences. Same with “agile”—a development approach popularized by software startups morphed into a general teamwork and business management approach, now being adapted to collaboration within and among organizations of all types. Both of these terms took center stage in a number of presentations last November at the ASAP European Alliance Summit in Amsterdam—and will be spotlighted again next week in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, organized around the theme of “Agile Partnering in Today’s Collaborative Ecosystems.”

You’re not alone if you think that “agility” and “ecosystems” are relevant topics—but you aren’t quite sure what “agile partnering” and “ecosystem management” actually mean. These emerging concepts are being defined, researched, and tested in the real world by practitioners across the ASAP community. Their learnings became the agendas of these two conferences—creating definition and clarity, building new capabilities, sharing case examples and new practices, and exploring new models for partnering. 

Ard-Pieter de Man, CSAP, PhD—an alliance management consultant and professor of management studies at the School of Business and Economics of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam—has been on a tear about the topic of ecosystem management:

  • Managing ecosystems—which de Man freely acknowledges is a contradictory notion—is the theme of a panel discussion next week at 2019 Summit, where de Man will be joined by senior partnering leaders from three very different fields: Harm-Jan Borgeld, PhD, CSAP, PhD, head alliance management, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany; Ken Carpenter, senior director, global partner qlliances, JDA Software; and Sally Wang, vice president alliances and partnerships, International SOS.
  • De Man discussed his hot topic in-depth in an article he authored for the Q4 2018 issue of Strategic Alliance Quarterly that includes findings from interviews with 12 executives involved in ecosystem management.
  • In January, he elaborated on the potential alliance management implications of ecosystems and emerging ecosystem management practices in several posts he contributed to the ASAP Blog.
  •  November 8 at the ASAP European Alliance Summit, he discussed “Ecosystem Management vs. Alliance Management: What’s the Difference?”

Back in December, I caught up with de Man on Skype to ask about how he might describe ecosystem management—and how different audiences, in industries and sectors other than technology, might apply the concept to their collaborations. (For more of my conversations with De Man, see articles in December 2018 Strategic Alliance Monthly and Q1 2019 Strategic Alliance Quarterly).

“It’s much like orchestration,” he said, borrowing yet another metaphor popularized by tech. He continued (including a term from astronomy that also pops up in ecosystem conversations): “A lot of public-private initiatives involve more complex constellations with numerous partners. I did presentation last Friday for the city of Amsterdam. They have a lot of challenges. I introduced the ecosystem concept to them and they found it really useful because they’re always working with a lot of different partners. And it looks like many of these public [sector] challenges are going to be addressed by multi-partner alliances. You can’t necessarily call them ecosystems, but they have characteristics of ecosystems. Speed is getting important. You might think, with the public sector involved, that things may slow down—but that’s no longer acceptable.” He went on to say, “Alliance capability is very valuable to have, and probably a qualifier if you want the ecosystem play. But you also have to develop new capabilities—the bar has been raised over the last couple of years.”

Next week in Fort Lauderdale, De Man and his Summit panelists plan on “bringing in the experience that people have now working in such an ecosystem environment,” he explained. “Each will discuss their issues: How is ecosystem different than alliance management? What are the different approaches, different competency profiles, do you hire different people? What is the same or similar? How do you think it will develop over the coming years?”

Learn about De Man’s panel discussion and other seminal sessions at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, and register for the event, at http://asapsummit.org. See the ASAP Media team’s comprehensive before, during, and after coverage of the 2019 Summit in Strategic Alliance publications and on the ASAP blog. 

Tags:  agile partnering  agility  alliance capability  Ard-Pieter de Man  ASAP Global Alliance Summit  collaboration  ecosystem management  ecosystems  multi-partner alliances  public-private initiatives 

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