The ecosystem in business - getting it right

Deliveroo is one example of a company that responded to the gap in changing needs when people wanted restaurant quality food in their own homes
Deliveroo is one example of a company that responded to the gap in changing needs when people wanted restaurant quality food in their own homes

HOLLAND refers to two provinces within the Netherlands. Here, we find the major cities people typically associate with the Netherlands. The Dutch government, however, have recently decided to stop marketing itself as Holland. From herein it will describe itself as The Netherlands, which is the actual name in the first place.

This approach to national rebranding is supported widely by business leaders, the tourist board, and of course, central government. On the surface this may seem superficial, however, it is anything but. It is telling of these times and captures something worth highlighting to businesses.

In the 1960s tourism became the panacea for economic development. The subsequent digital revolution meant that small areas could acquire a presence on a global stage. For many countries, this meant distilling the country (and country’s brand) into a few stereotypical images that had the power to differentiate the region, area or country from elsewhere.

Appreciably, the distilled essence isn’t a comprehensive picture of a region or country. It is just enough to help people make a snap decision whether they will visit or not. Or, chose elsewhere in a burgeoning global tourism market.

The problem, however, with selling a country based upon a stereotypical perception is that the economy from tourism revenue is not spread evenly across a territory. Ultimately, when people have got what they came for, they leave. This is true more so than ever given the changing nature of how people consume.

Today people organise their own travel and have already consumed the virtual destination, the trip advisor reviews, the social media ambassador accolades. They arrive with a dedicated check list, some of which, will likely be captured in a selfie.

This connects directly to businesses who have a range of products or services, but hang their hooks on to one strong contender. In an overcrowded market and ever changing consumer tastes, nothing is certain.

Add on top of that, the fields of design and technology offer an endless stream of innovative solutions to old problems. Products and services that seem vital can be quickly replaced with new approaches.

Deliveroo is just one example. It responded to the gap in changing needs. People wanted restaurant quality food in the comfort of their own homes. Consumers got a quality take out meal, diversifying how people used the industry. Like the tourism model in the past, things have changed. Everything is up for grabs and change is certain. The music industry taught us as much even if it is a lesson we still appear to be learning.

On the positive side, looking at companies that are great examples of innovating and product ecosystems, let’s consider Apple. The iPhone is Apple’s strongest selling product, but it was, and is, just one great product on offer. They haven’t stopped selling other products. The opposite. This is because all their products are part of an ecosystem - which keeps a customer coming back for old and new products.

As many businesses (or countries) have learned, and will continue learning, having one product do well isn’t enough. This becomes particularly pertinent when the consumer is even more discerning than ever and businesses can’t rely upon one product but must have a diverse range of products because at some point, quicker than ever anticipated, that product is liable to be obslete.

:: Elizabeth Meehan ( trained as a service designer in Milan and has a PhD in Sociology from Queen's University. She strives to educate businesses about the changing economy and the challenges this brings.