Transforming companies into ecosystems

Transforming companies into ecosystems: What does it mean for reputation management?

Transforming companies into ecosystems

In 1993 Dr James F. Moore conceived the idea of an ecosystem in the business setting. According to him a business ecosystem “refer[s] to intentional communities of economic actors whose individual business activities share in some large measure the fate of the whole community”. Since the conception of this concept it has flourished and today most executives agree that transforming companies into ecosystems is important.

Prime examples of flourishing organizational ecosystems include Apple, and IBM. Despite the success record most companies have yet to seize their full potential. Today more and more are beginning their transformations to organizational ecosystems, allowing for co-evolution to take place. According to Accenture 76% of business leaders believe that business models will be unrecognisable in 5 years from today with a main change agent being ecosystems. And as these transformations develop, we are learning far more about its implications on existing roles and the opportunities and challenges they create.

What is already evident today is that this transformation is fundamentally changing how communication professionals have to master their roles.  With an increasing number of stakeholders to consider, a rising number of interconnected communication channels, new political and market uncertainties and a new Generation (Gen Z) entering the workforce, for sure, the role is getting more and more demanding.

Insights from an European Association of Communication Directors (EACD) discussion

Globeone had the pleasure to host a lively EACD (European Association of Communication Directors) Switzerland discussion about how these changes impact reputation management. While, for a long time, it seemed evident to discuss external sources of reputation risks and opportunities, a study conducted by ReputationInc together with the EACD argues that most drivers actually emerge from inside the organizations.








Dennis Larsen and Kerstin Liehr from ReputationInc kicked off the session by highlighting results of their joint EACD study on “The future of reputation risk management”. The research arrived at a blueprint of six areas that companies should focus on to advance their reputation risk resilience.  A core finding was the importance of addressing internal sources of risk and ways to establish better risk awareness and cultural adjustments.

Médard Schoenemaeckers, EACD Board Member and global Head of Internal Communications at Credit Suisse, shared from his wealth of general communication experience and gave interesting insights into reputation management in the banking industry. He stressed that a key role of communicators is to be a mirror to the organization and help build resilience to external developments. Especially in times of unprecedented changes it is essential to create a plan for communication and to follow it.

Niina Eschmann, Head of Internal Comms and Content at ABB introduced her perspective on the blurring lines between internal and external communications, the challenges and opportunities and what this means for reputation management. “Engagement and collaboration are fundamental today” she emphasized. Furthermore, “consistency is key” she stated: “it is not just the ‘what’ you say that is important, but the ‘how’ you say it”.

Finally, Abby Guthkelch, Global Communication Solutions Lead at Workplace by Facebook, inspired with key insights of why connected communities are not a “nice to have” but mandatory for success in today’s business world. She explored how to build better internal connected communities within organizations drawing from Facebook’s own experiences from underpinned by the Workplace solution. She stated that “if information is shared internally before it goes external, it reinforces the idea that leaders trust their employees and fosters a sense of community”.

In conclusion, the transformation of companies into ecosystems requires a well-equipped and prepared communication team to help future-proof organizations for these seismic changes.