Ecosystem Window Dressing & CEOs Who Don’t Get It

Ecosystem Window Dressing & CEOs Who Don’t Get It

February 22, 2022

Are B2B leaders all in on Ecosystems? Back in 2018, Accenture told us that 76% of company CEOs thought Ecosystems were the biggest disruptive threat to conventional business models.

Since all we do is study and advise companies on Ecosystems, we get a bit worked up when we hear that Ecosystems are a known thing and that CEOs get it. We believe that fewer than 25% of B2B SaaS CEOs understand the transformative power of Ecosystems and that even fewer know how to GoToEcosystem.

We believe that as of 2022, 90%+ of B2B SaaS companies are in Ecosystem infancy and that most of us are talking about Ecosystems but not really turning on the gas. When we survey companies large and small, we see what we term Ecosystem Window Dressing as the strategy du jour. From CEOs down, executives don’t walk the talk. With this hype cycle, here is what we see:

-A weak connection between business model transformation and how we orchestrate partners.

-Most Ecosystem leaders are still reporting into sales with an over-rotation to a partner priority focused on ACV.

-Most leaders see Ecosystems as more or less synonymous with routes-to-market.

-Very poor internal alignment exists across LoBs, leading to short-term, reactive and under-resourced Ecosystem investments, fragmented execution, and poor partner experiences.

-Predominance of top-down, vendor-portal-led partner program GTMs which perpetuate poor partner engagement and weak results.

-And so on and so on.

The 2022 Crossbeam Ecosystems Report (thank you Sean Blanda) puts this Ecosystem immaturity into perspective:

-Only 10% of companies use a partner ecosystem platform to exchange data.

-22% use real-time CRM data when account mapping.

-57% of companies don’t know how partnerships impact customer retention.

-67% don’t incentivize sales reps to co-sell with tech partners.

B2B leaders won’t get Ecosystems right following this playbook. What needs to happen:

-CEOs need to get it by aligning business model change with Ecosystem orchestration. Ecosystems won’t contribute if they are not linked to business model transformation.

-We need to hire Ecosystem Chiefs (more than Partner Chiefs) and empower them to work cross-functionally to embed aligned Ecosystem and partner-first business processes into all LoBs. These chiefs must report directly to the CEO.

-We need to shift from a GTM channels/RTM mindset, focused myopically on ACV, to a GoToEcosystem mindset where ACV matters but is harmonized with innovation, influence, etc.

GoToEcosystem is all about this shift in mindset and the best practices to justify and execute the transformation. Does your CEO get it? If not, make that happen today by managing up and sharing what you know. The clock is ticking and CEOs are leaving rapid, sustained growth and valuation outcomes on the table.