The digital revolution has impacted every sector of the global economy. For industrial companies, it has transformed manufacturing into a customer-centric, “mass customization” endeavor (often referred as “lot-size-one”) that makes it possible to fill grocery shelves with 18 flavors of the same cookie with the flip of a switch.
But what happens next? How do companies achieve the next wave of payoffs from digital transformation? Here’s a hint: They don’t do it alone. The next level of innovation lies in connecting with partners in a digital ecosystem.
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One factor driving the urgency for co-innovation is the need to solve specific customer challenges quickly. Just as consumers expect fast and constant product innovation, the do-or-die necessity of meeting customer challenges faster than ever is forcing B2B companies to find innovative and agile ways to rise to the occasion.
As we’ve laid out in our new white paper, “open for business” depends on a company’s willingness to be “open to co-innovation.” No single company alone can possibly innovate fast enough to keep up.
The benefits of co-innovation are proven for all stakeholders, including end-user companies, independent software vendors (ISVs), system integrators, and the large enterprises that can orchestrate digital innovation incubators:
- Faster innovation
- Faster scaling
- Faster go-to-market
These three benefits enable shared revenue and growth for all parties involved. In a true win-win scenario, partners are mutually enabled – from ideation and pilot projects, all the way to commercialization of new offers at scale, allowing for greater speed and reaching new customers across specializations and markets.
Co-innovation is, from a technical and business perspective, enabled by open APIs: Application Programming Interfaces. They provide developers with programmatic access to software applications or web services. Acceleration happens when linking in-house APIs to third parties can drive new business opportunities, or when open APIs facilitate the development of customer-facing applications.
Partner enablement and sharing developer resources
The idea is simple: you can complement a company’s portfolio with new, digitally defined value propositions that come from partnerships in a plug-and-play reality. With the right level of partner enablement, you can orchestrate a robust ecosystem that fuels innovation and offers new go-to-market opportunities.
How do developers’ resources such as APIs, datasets, software development kits (SDKs) and analytics help with that?
Let’s take the example of open APIs. They allow software systems, applications, and programs “talk” to each other, ensuring that in-house or outsourced developers don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time they solve a new customer problem.
Open APIs provide a way for innovative developers to access existing building blocks for creating new applications (e.g., Uber’s use of the Google Map API), or to access data sets that can power new digital services (e.g., best-price travel sites that comb through airline-hosted data sets to find the best deal for the consumer behind the user-interface scenes).
Unlocking the business value of open innovation in the industrial sector
So how to embrace digital co-innovation fueled by cross-company collaboration, data sharing and the opening of platforms to third-party innovations?
At Schneider Electric, we have built a fast-growing business with our Ecostruxure Advisors, enabling our customers to generate insights from the data we help them collect from their assets across their lifecycle and in different domains.
We believe it’s time to bring the openness of Ecostruxure to the next level for our customers. Through our Schneider Electric Exchange ecosystem, we offer APIs to our customers that allow them to build their own applications – and empower them to build their own business models – and to make digital co-innovation a reality.
The Future of openness
Co-innovation is becoming a standard operating model. By enacting an open, API-first innovation strategy in a cyber-secure and established digital ecosystem, companies can gain a new competitive edge in the digital economy.
Why co-innovation is the passport to this prosperous future? It enables the agility, speed and scalability needed to accelerate digital transformation successfully. Companies that continue to work in silos, trying to satisfy customers with their own, closed solutions, will miss out on the chance to innovate and create new, customer-centric value propositions through co-innovation partnerships in a plug-and-play operating model.
As we observe the outcomes of partnerships enabled through Schneider Electric Exchange, we witness how it facilitates this essential mindset of “open for collaboration”, allowing technology partners, ISVs, and system integrators to work together alongside our customers to solve their most pressing energy efficiency, productivity, and sustainability challenges, use case by use case.
Discover APIs, datasets, analytics, and SDKs use cases from Exchange in our latest white paper here.