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Strategy Research

Mapping service ecosystems

Ecosystem mapping is a powerful tool that can be used to engage with business executives and align on strategy.

by Geraldine Lam Updated 10 Jun 2019

Reflections from our workshop with Cornelius Rachieru, founder and managing partner of Ampli2de Inc. The workshop was held on 17 May 2019 and organised by PebbleRoad.

Digital designers today are more than familiar with customer journey maps and service blueprints. While these are wonderful ways to map customer experiences at the micro-level, these techniques cannot map interdependencies at the macro-level. To do so, you need ecosystem mapping.

What is ecosystem mapping

Ecosystem mapping is a collaborative process that helps organisations to visualise and map their service components and relationships between services within the space (ecosystem) they operate in.

In an interview with Rosenfeld, Cornelius compared the scale of ecosystems to features, products and services:

  • Feature: A specific artefact for a digital service or product (e.g. search function).
  • Product: A collection of features that are designed to work together (e.g. website).
  • Service: A collection of products and people that work together to provide a service (e.g. website, app, call centre, agents).
  • Ecosystem: A collection of services that work together to provide business results (e.g. banking system).

Why it is important

Ecosystem maps provide a helicopter view of the ecosystem an organisation lives in. This allows designers, product managers and business leaders to identify:

  • The role and influence an organisation has in its ecosystem.
  • Interdependencies across different customer journeys.
  • Which areas should be given strategic priority.
  • Which areas should be journey mapped or blueprinted in detail.

How to map an ecosystem

There are many ways to map an ecosystem. Ecosystem maps can range from a one-dimensional view of entities to multifaceted web diagrams.

Ecosystems can be presented as mind maps or cluster maps.

Ecosystem mapping involves:

  • Research and definition
  • Synthesis and visual exploration

In the workshop, we focused on our ecosystem’s primary actors and what we knew about our users and competitors. We captured these in a rich picture of our system during the research and definition phase. Examples of rich pictures include mindmaps, cluster maps and concept maps.

In the synthesis and visual exploration phase, we wrote our organisation’s services on post-its and clustered them to identify our organisation’s primary service clusters (e.g. product and customer support).

After we identified our organisation’s primary service cluster, we drew connections to indicate which services were directly and indirectly related and set boundaries. Finally, we used the following Ecosystem Lenses to view our ecosystem from different perspectives:

  • Pain points
  • Competition
  • Relevance
  • Channels
  • Devices
  • Risk factors
  • Dependencies
  • Needs

While there are other methods to achieve these outcomes, Cornelius’ systems-based approach helped the team to fundamentally understand their organisations and environments within a day. This rapid approach makes it a powerful tool for aligning on strategy and actionable work streams with the business.

Geraldine Lam

Geraldine Lam

Content strategist

Excited to make an impact and help individuals and organisations through content strategy!

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