In the future, competitive advantage won’t be determined by the company alone, but by the strength of the ecosystems it chooses, and its plans to help the ecosystems grow.

In my previous blog posts in this series, I introduced the main theme and the five trends highlighted by Accenture’s Technology Vision 2017. I also took a look at how one of those trends—the growing role of AI—will impact FS organizations. In this post, I look at how another two trends—ecosystem power plays and the journey into uncharted territory—will impact the organization.

Let’s start with some predictions. Technology Vision 2017 forecasts that:

  • Five years from now, 80 percent of the S&P 500 will be engaged in multiple industry ecosystems.
  • In five years’ time, the majority of customers will be purchasing goods or services through digital intermediaries such as messaging platforms, connected devices, or smart assistants.
  • In seven years’ time, an industry leader from today will have transformed into an ecosystem company spanning multiple markets. The enterprise will lie at the center of a disruptive ecosystem, holding no physical headquarters and few permanent staff. Its highest-valued asset will be a digital platform.

Ecosystems will transform the FS sector 

FS executives surveyed in the Accenture study—just over 1,100 people from 30 countries working for organizations with revenues of over $1 billion—are very clear on the value of ecosystems to their digital future.

  • More than 75 percent of insurance executives agree that digital ecosystems are having a noticeable or transformative effect on their sector.
  • 94 percent of insurers and 36 percent of bankers say adopting a platform-based business model and engaging in ecosystems with digital partners are critical to their success.
  • 33 percent of insurers are aggressively taking steps to participate in digital ecosystems; 23 percent of bankers say their organization is leading one or more digital ecosystem.

How are FS organizations participating in ecosystems? Platforms act as central hubs for complex ecosystems and FS providers are no strangers to leveraging the platforms of third parties or to integrating their core business functionality (e.g., payments) with third-party platforms. Leading insurers and bankers are leveraging these relationships to establish and grow their own roles in new digital ecosystems.

We’re already starting to see insurance platforms and ecosystems come together.

One example is the global strategic partnership between AXA, Alibaba and Ant Financial Services. The partners will distribute AXA’s insurance products and services through Alibaba’s global e-commerce ecosystem, including its wholesale marketplaces, and sell travel insurance to Chinese Ant Financial Services customers traveling overseas.

Ecosystem strategies

As ecosystems begin to form, companies across industries are beginning to forge the relationships that will drive the next wave of digital growth. FS organizations have the opportunity to play a multi-facetted role in these ecosystems—as platform owners, third-party enablers and service providers, partnering their customers on their individual journeys.

The external platforms that insurers rely on throughout their enterprise to access new customer touchpoints and markets also provide them with gateways to new digital ecosystems. As tactical decisions around technology providers, third-party platforms and distribution partners can determine their participation, a more strategic approach is required.

Leading FS organizations are selecting and investing in digital ecosystems for long-term growth, laying the foundations for future digital value chains—and positioning themselves at the heart of emerging digital markets. Others, who may not wish to own platforms, are strengthening their position for participation in ecosystems on different terms by, for example, making application programming interfaces (APIs) a key part of growing their brand.

These resources offer deeper insight into how the emergence of digital ecosystems impacts FS organizations and the strategies they are adopting:

Accenture Technology Vision 2017 for Insurance

Accenture Technology Vision 2017 for Banking

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