“All-in-one solution” is an incredibly popular buzz-phrase in tech.
Just listen to any founder describe their product, look at the home page of any startup website, or review a modern sales deck.
And we get it. Describing a product or service as “all-in-one” is tempting because of all the features you’ve included to satisfy every user request. And for at least a moment in time, it is all-encompassing — for at least one user.
But, “all-in-one” is unlikely to be true for most users, most of the time.
If you’re looking for evidence, just examine your own technology stack — do you have “one tool to rule them all?”
What’s more likely is that you’ve built a technology ecosystem — a space where your organization has the ability to take advantage of emerging technology through integrations, all while still maintaining security and ease of operation. Tech ecosystems are the exact opposite of being locked into a platform, hard-coding new functionality, and running your IT team ragged with support tickets for patches.
The next big thing for your organization is unlikely to be a solitary application, but a technology ecosystem that enables frictionless output and puts you at a competitive advantage.
Let’s take a closer look.
The Business Case for Application Ecosystems
The only constant is change — and the manner in which we get our work done is currently changing drastically. Collaboration has become more important than ever, both internally and externally.
Internally, it’s no longer feasible to have each department operate in a silo if you want to stay competitive. It’s crucial to develop synergy between tasks, handoffs, and reporting to ensure operational excellence.
Externally, we’ve reached a point where the “job to be done” for the customer likely relies on multiple processes, applications, and organizations; plenty of which you don’t own or have any significant control over.
What these both add up to is the need to provide collaborative environments where coworkers and customers alike can get their work done seamlessly and efficiently, regardless of how many tools they need. It’s no longer acceptable to build digital products in isolation without considering the larger ecosystem that they will be a part of.
And there are some pretty incredible benefits that accompany product development that follows this philosophy. Integrations will allow for far deeper (and better) user experiences.
Integrated systems can actually increase your organization’s bottom line by creating new revenue streams, reduce the cost of business operations, and increasing your speed and flexibility.
As savvy product managers buy into the tech ecosystem philosophy, look for more and more digital products to be built with interoperability in mind.
How Enterprise Businesses Can Use Ecosystems as a Competitive Strategy
Tech ecosystems are starting to sound pretty neat, aren’t they? Here’s how to put them to work at your organization.
Utilize Existing Connectors
Many of your existing tools likely have built-in connectors that you may not be using to their full potential to build a complete ecosystem.
For instance, Dropbox Extensions are third-party partner integrations that let you work with your content directly from your Dropbox account. This allows you to work on different aspects of your work without constantly shifting back and forth between apps and helps keep all changes and edits completely synchronized across your business.
Automate Wherever Possible
True digital transformation isn’t possible without a significant amount of automation. And automation shouldn’t just speed up a process, it should completely transform it.
Just look at the standard process of sending a contract — you may send it via fax, mail, or email if you’re lucky; then comes the indefinite wait-and-remind cycle; finally you get the pleasure of passing the executed document to the fulfillment team and crossing your fingers things move forward in the next month.
Now imagine that same process but the only manual action is inputting an electronic signature. That’s it! All the other steps can be pre-configured to run on their own, instantaneously and with proper security and audit trails. That’s an application ecosystem in action. That’s true digital transformation.
Take Advantage of APIs
Application programming interface (API) technology allows applications to talk to and work with each other. And they’re no longer just a nice feature to have — they are the bar digital products must meet if they wish to remain relevant and competitive.
Per the ecosystem model, your organization is unlikely able to own and master all aspects of the technology vertical. That means you’ll be working with external resources as necessary.
Data retrieval and integration are easily configured with APIs — make sure your systems as well as the tools you intend to work with are API-friendly.
Consolidate Data to Increase Reporting Capabilities
As we mentioned; the ability to collect, synthesize, and parse your data is the key to unlocking new segments of customers (which can create new revenue streams) and optimizing internal processes (which can save money through efficiency).
When your data is stored in a central repository, analysts can generate the types of reports that they need to provide the insights that decision-makers need to lead the organization forward.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of digital transformation with your very own tech ecosystem, explore Dropbox Sign’s API or sign up for your free trial today and start automating the process of sending and signing secure documents with data encryption, audit trails, tamper-proofing, and industry-standard compliances in a matter of days.