Interconnected information technology resources that can function as a unit are useful during the Covid-19 pandemic
Let me first walk you through a maze of terms and a labyrinth of misconception and misperception.
Ecosystem is defined by Oxford as, “a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.” A digital ecosystem is a group of interconnected information technology resources that can function as a unit.
The keyword here in both cases is either interacting or interconnected.
And this is where the problem starts. Blaine Kyllo wrote in Content Strategy Inc, “The word ecosystem has become a popular buzz word in the world of business and media. But it is not being used properly, which causes difficulties for the senior leaders of companies.
“Often, they do not consider the actual meaning of the term, and the improper understanding and use of it leads to costly inefficiencies and missed business opportunities.”
To what degree then have we experienced costly inefficiencies and missed in business opportunities all this while?
I would agree with the author the misperception of media and industry regarding the term. And he further explained the use of the term without the keyword of connection which would also include collaboration. The misuse of the word ecosystem is because of it being in standalone mode and existence all this while. The reality of the situation is out there for all to see.
When collaboration is important
This happens across the socio-economic spectrum of missed business and socio-economic opportunities. More importantly, the missed opportunity to contribute well to healthcare during Covid-19.
Practitioners, companies and in the local context boast of transformation, disruptive innovation, cutting edge technology but minus the connectivity and collaboration with other companies or entities. The high touch of coming together to collaborate does not exist.
A simple analogy is someone having a cutting-edge laptop, working on its amazing innovations but without internet connection. Another analogy is the thermometer on a stand to gauge temperature of visitors to an establishment.
A nice creative and practical invention. Convenient to use, you just stand in front of it and there is no need to touch or handle it, so the virus is not transmitted.
It is part of the ecosystem’s gadget, but it is only a standalone without connectivity Unless it is an example of connectivity where it can collect data for the mall’s data centre to be shared among nearby malls and businesses.
Ideally, a digital ecosystem in its truest meaning entails private or public companies and the government collaborating, sharing resources, innovating together, and be opened to partnering.
Examples of a lifestyle marketing and event using digital ecosystem during Covid-19
Nike in Europe utilised its ecosystems comprising ecommerce, workout apps and wellness partners to increase its sales online when the brick-and-mortar stores suffered losses or were being closed.
Shanghai Fashion Week went totally online, and the success was attributed to collaboration and connectivity among the digital ecosystem players in the truest sense of the word.
How China optimised use of a digital ecosystem in its efficient battle against Covid-19
China’s digital ecosystem’s rapid response to the Covid-19 is legendary. Boston Consultancy Group identified the following key strategies which mark an unprecedented veritable spirit of the digital ecosystem:
- they rapidly introduced Covid-19 offerings, ranging from insurance coverage for frontlines to remote medical advice
- they created new platforms, which included a live map that totals up public places where infected patients were first identified
- they widened existing digital ecosystems
- the rollout of cutting-edge technologies was accelerated,
- they helped businesses make the transition to online, (a true spirit of digital ecosystem)
- they effectively utilized the power of public-private partnerships.
From the above, we can conclude in brief about a digital ecosystem that entails the sharing of resources, connectivity, collaboration, initiate and speed up innovation. In a Cluj-Napoca study titled “Attitude of Companies: Network Collaboration vs Competition”, researchers stated, “In the actual knowledge-based economy, new key driven factors for businesses have appeared – innovation, know-how and customer orientation. These factors are important for all industries and generate new forms of cooperation networks, focused on competitiveness increase”. They further explained on:
- Sharing good practices in innovation
- Implement new knowledge by others in their industry
- Vertical integration application within a network or industrial cluster
- Collaborate to enhance international competitiveness
- Looks like the Chinese have shown the way based on the above findings.
ESG Vision’s hope
1) Speed up veritable digital ecosystem with connectivity and collaboration
TCS in its white paper said that healthcare industry is witnessing an acceleration in the adoption of digital technologies and solutions. Patients are ensured of receiving remote high-quality care through regulatory measures and state, public and private companies collaborate to proactively share information to manage care and prevent future pandemics.
The emphasis is obvious on the collaboration and sharing of information, especially granular information by the state for optimum management of care.
2) Malaysian companies joining China conglomerates’ digital ecosystems
Other than providing platforms for foreign companies to do online transactions, companies are also given opportunities for incubation and brand building
3) Mega digital ecosystems coming together to be digital industrial complexes
Despite the negative connotations of brick-and-mortar industrial complexes of military and healthcare in the US, in its digital form industrial complexes will be the panacea for lack of resources during the pandemic.
Resources will be shared and there will be seamless collaboration among the players. In China, this can already be seen happening. The flurry of activities started when the government announced this on the onset of the pandemic.
Ali Baba itself is busy with its intra group of subsidiary companies and not to mention the myriad of inter group of partners in its ecosystem. Not everyone would notice and identify these as in the context of digital industrial complexes.
As a simple and rudimentary illustration of the mega digital ecosystems of healthcare, tourism and lifestyle converge or coming together to enhance, say, medical tourism – patients/tourists from airport to hotel, then to hospital all cared for as special facilities are provided.
This includes post treatment catching a favourite foreign band for relaxing entertainment at a bistro and special allowable diet during dining as the three industries share same data about the patient/tourist for a hassle-free stay.
We may talk of cutting-edge technology, disruptive innovations, networking and get international digital gurus to be on advisory councils but this will be pointless without first having the culture of collaboration among the state, and big and small players in the industries. In the recent tech month event, with the myriad of initiatives and white papers, no mention about collaboration was made.
The country’s digital ecosystem’s connections and collaborative existence is relatively and unfortunately like the desolate stand-alone standing thermometer at the mall sans interconnectivity. — The Health
Zulkifli Ahmad is the founder of ESG Vision, a think tank advocating ideas on ESG and sustainability.