CCC RECAP: Why ‘Ecosystems’ Are Having a Moment

A decades-old business concept is suddenly new again, for good reason

By T.C. Doyle

April’s Channelnomics Community Call zeroed in on ecosystems and why something old feels new and different today. In addition, Channelnomics showcased some new things happening at Channelnomics and some things to look for on the horizon.

What’s New About Ecosystems

Analysts, consultants, partners, and channel practitioners alike are all talking about ecosystems these days. Many are breathlessly enthusiastic about the business gains that could be achieved if they can unlock the value they believe is trapped within their partner programs and channel communities.

If you’re a channel leader for a vendor company that has worked with partners for any length of time, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. Ecosystems, after all, have been with us since IBM partnered with Microsoft to deliver the first IBM PC. From the moment these two companies began recruiting sales partners to sell their innovations, the modern ecosystem took form.

So, what’s different about ecosystems today? That’s what Channelnomics discussed on the latest community call.

A modern ecosystem is more than a collection of partners that rally around a product platform and partner program. A modern ecosystem is more of a go-to-market strategy and business philosophy that values ongoing collaborations in addition to individual transactions. Unlike a traditional ecosystem consisting of just vendors and channel partners, a modern ecosystem includes influencers, ISVs, content partners, alliance partners, internal stakeholders (including channel account managers, direct sales associates, and marketing teams), and more. It also includes customers who, via a commercial marketplace and modern partner automation technology stack, can procure, swap, and offer their own products and services.

Anther characteristic of a modern ecosystem is that it cuts across industry lines and customer segments, connecting buyers, sellers, and influencers in new and unimagined ways. Consider Uber, a company Channelnomics discussed during the April community call.

Uber in many ways embodies what an orchestrator of a modern ecosystem looks like today. While the company started out as a digital disruptor of consumer transportation, it’s since expanded well beyond its original footprint. And it’s continued to build its ecosystem with organizations that can cater to different customer sets, vertical industries, and technological needs.

After helping to define ride-sharing for individual consumers, the company expanded into food and consumer product delivery, which brought it new ecosystem partners from the world of food distribution and fleet management. Uber has since expanded into new services with a new payment model and platform technology (Uber for Business) that serves customers working in travel, procurement, events, accounting, and more. It has attracted more 170,000 companies, including more than half of the Fortune 500. In addition, Uber has moved into the freight shipping business with Uber Freight, which now manages $17 billion worth of goods for more than 200,000 users annually.

Channelnomics will soon have more to say on how channel practitioners can build, manage, and scale their ecosystems.


Take note, Channelnomics IQ subscribers: There are several new items awaiting you in our Channelnomics (née Brainstorm) IQ repository.

  • Open Questions About Ingram Micro’s Cloud-Based Xvantage: This analyst note takes a look at the distributor’s revolutionary, AI-empowered sales management platform that has new capabilities for helping vendors drive sales. Channelnomics CEO and Chief Analyst Larry Walsh takes a deep look at the technology that he thinks has great promise but also a few gaps.
  • Finding the Partners That Fit: In this analyst note, Channelnomics shares some insights from our 2023 Channel Forecast Study. Contrary to what you might hear and read, vendor sales aren’t rapidly moving to third-party marketplaces or being overly swayed by non-IT influencers. Instead, Channelnomics research finds, vendors are doubling down on a mix of traditional sales partners that drive the bulk of their revenue.
  • Channel M&A: No Reason to Change Your Go-to-Market Strategy: Deal-making continues at a rapid pace, but it hasn’t yet altered the channel landscape to the degree that vendors should change their go-to-market strategies. In this analyst note, Channelnomics puts the M&A craze in perspective.
  • NEW PODCAST — The Network Effect: Channelnomics has launched a new podcast this year, The Network Effect. For each episode, Walsh is joined by Bryn Nettesheim, senior director of strategic partnerships & alliances at Channelnomics. In their latest chat, the Channelnomics duo considers joint business planning. The process, they note, can yield good results when done with mutual success in mind.

Channelnomics Community Calls are open to any channel professional and practitioner. If you’re a Channelnomics IQ subscriber looking to request your monthly one-on-one call or schedule your annual channel program review, send an e-mail to

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