Embrace Eco-system development for a shorter time to market

Floris Benniks

Innovation is a hot topic for any company in the digital space. You need to experiment with the newest technological possibilities to help clients stay relevant in their increasingly digital oriented market. For example, companies that continuously research and quickly support new digital touchpoints become more competitive in the market. In this blog article I will elaborate about the advantages that so called eco-system development offers, a practical approach to speed up your time to market and limit costs.

Apple Devices

Adaptability is crucial to respond to changing needs

Trying new technologies often has the misconception of being expensive and requiring a long time to market, however the mobile app market already proved that it is possible to quickly adapt to new technologies. Every year Apple and Google introduce new mobile devices and services. Leading ‘mobile’ innovative companies show an innovation strategy that could possibly be applied to more digital spaces such as voice, chat, social or cloud development.

Let’s take a look at the introduction of the Apple Watch. In a short timeframe, some airlines already made it possible to see flight information on your smartwatch. Airlines must comply to a lot of privacy requirements especially around local encrypted storage and network traffic. So adopting a new device would sound like a lot of work. But Apple made sure that development for the Apple Watch was based on their developers best practices guidelines. Because the developers made separated shareable frameworks for network, security, storage, business logic and user-interface files it turned out to be relatively simple to add support for the Apple Watch. The only new work airlines needed to implement was a new user interface.

If you have stable portable frameworks it is relatively simple to make apps for phone, tablet, TV, car, watch or voice. An efficient way to start making these portable frameworks for mobile eco-systems is to focus on native phone app development first. Expanding to new devices and services is often managed from the main phone app. In the current state of mobile eco-systems the native phone app can therefore be seen as the hub/gateway to the other components in the entire eco-system.

Mobile Ecosystems v2

The mobile eco-systems are continuously enriched with new digital touchpoints. Therefore it seems like an efficient and predicable way to follow their release cycle to introduce new and exciting digital advancements for your end users. This has an additional benefit of relative low costs and a short time to market.

Luckily, Apple is not the only growing eco-system. For example, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Salesforce and Samsung are also adding features and/or devices to their eco-systems. They all provide development best practices to reuse previous development work in their new ‘innovations’.

This calls for a strategy of eco-system based innovation:

Embrace the eco-system and follow the best practices to limit cost, time and effort to try out new vendor services or products.

Keeping an eye on all eco-systems for the best approach

Putting the eco-system at the heart of your overall architecture is a switch from the widely adopted ‘best of breed’ approach, where the architecture is based on the best matching solution for the problem at hand. While this could lead to the best possible solution for a very specific ask, a possible downside could be that you need to build several parts from the ground up making it more expensive or time consuming.

Take for example voice. At this moment, Apple’s Siri is not the most flexible and best performing voice service available. But if you have invested in the Apple eco-system it is easier to implement Siri than to implement Amazon Alexa for voice integration.

When committing to an eco-system you need to take into account that you probably need to embrace multiple closed eco-systems to reach all of your users. In the mobile space, for instance, you will need to support at least the iOS and Android eco-systems to reach your users.

A commitment to products and services of a single closed eco-system, like AWS, Azure or Google, enables innovative companies to quickly respond to technological advancements with lower costs. That’s why we encourage our mobile developers to think beyond the smartphone and become eco-system developers. A way of thinking that also applies to other development practices, like Cloud native development.


Looking at the future we expect that the closed nature of the current eco-systems will change to a more service oriented and open system where services and products between vendors work together seamlessly to provide a unique and tailored experience to the end user. We expect that this will be the ultimate best of breed that can act on a much larger scale and be cost efficient at the same time.

Ecosystem Vendor graph v2

To achieve this interoperable eco-system mashup, the eco-system vendors need to embrace the potential of opening up their systems.

For our clients to be successful and stay relevant in the future, eco-systems should be much more transparent and deep knowledge of the eco-systems should become more available in order for companies to guide clients towards a more open and service oriented landscape.

Like to talk about eco-system development and how we can support? please drop me a line.