“Ecosystems are the future of digital."

Peter Sondergaard, SVP, Gartner Research

As digitalization matures, more enterprises are joining digital ecosystems. This raises technology, organizational and leadership challenges for CIOs.

What is a digital ecosystem?

A digital ecosystem is an interdependent group of enterprises, people and/or things that share standardized digital platforms for a mutually beneficial purpose (such as commercial gain, innovation or common interest). Digital ecosystems enable you to interact with customers, partners, adjacent industries — even your competition.

Top performers use digital ecosystems to amplify their reach.

Denmark-based Danske Bank used an ecosystem of partners and businesses to create an online system called Simple, which combines customer data with house market listings to provide potential homebuyers with an estimate of tax, heating and electricity costs. The bank also offers a financing arm and “journey aggregator,” which ties users into an ecosystem of realtors and information and service providers.

Even traditional, asset-heavy industries like construction can transform through ecosystems. Swedish enterprise NCC Industry used an “internal startup” to pitch various initiatives, and ultimately launched “Loop Rocks,” a peer-to-peer site for the exchange of secondary building materials.

Avoiding participation is not an option.

Our primary research shows 79% of top-performing digital organizations indicate participation in a digital ecosystem — vs. 49% of average performers. CIOs tell us they will double the number of ecosystem partners in two years.

Digital ecosystems are converting industry models from simple relationships to distributed partnerships. Building a strong ecosystem will help you manage the transition.

Start the digital ecosystem conversation now.

Business, legal and ethical policies shape what your partners can do — so it’s critical to educate your executive leadership team on the importance of digital ecosystems to your organization.


Describe the potential value of ecosystems. You’re not only building digital business, but a more connected, more efficient digital society — from smarter cities, to agricultural systems that can feed billions, to the need for fewer hospital beds.


Discuss the role your organization will play. When will you lead? When will you partner? And when will you find you have to do both?


Decide how you’ll approach the digital giants. Depending on your organization or industry, you may choose to work with the digital giants — or fight them.


Discover how we help clients drive maximum value.

Image of Gartner SVP Research, Peter Sondergaard on Gartner Digital Ecosystems page.

What role will your organization play?

Image of women networking about digital ecosystems

Explore digital ecosystems

Inter-conncted roads showing how digital ecosystems will be connected.

Seize the digital ecosystem opportunity


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