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Firm of the Future: Assets to Ecosystems

Four key trends are affecting the coming shift from assets to ecosystems.


Firm of the Future: Assets to Ecosystems

In the future, organizations will need to rethink their asset base to understand how and where to create value. Chris Brahm, a partner in Bain's Digital practice, shares four trends affecting the coming shift from assets to ecosystems.

Read the Bain Brief: The Firm of the Future

Read the transcript below.

CHRIS BRAHM: The shift from assets to ecosystems is an important theme that we see in the firm of the future. There are four digital trends that are impacting the shape of the enterprise: increasing automation; increasing transparency and intelligence; much lower transaction costs, both within the enterprise and beyond; and the increasing value associated with networks.

The consequence of these trends is that the firm of the future, as well as industries of the future, can be reshaped in very significant ways, where the value-creation process can be recombined in ways that are far more efficient and effective in delivering customer value. We see different types of enterprises emerging today and in the future as a result of that. We see platforms that tie together assets throughout an industry in ways that create value, whether those are devices of organizations or of individual workers. And we see those platforms playing incredibly important roles in different industries and across industries.

We also see capability sourcers. This is as a service, you know, whether it's data science as a service, HR as a service, IT as a service—various capabilities where enterprises can source what they need from a third party at greater scale and with greater effectiveness and efficiency than they could do on their own. And so enterprises will increasingly look for third parties, scale platforms that are capability sourcers.

And the third is we do see continued pure-play and point product and service companies that will exist in the industries of the future and that those firms will be able to connect into these major platforms and operate, enabled by these capability sourcers. And it will all, in sum total, force organizations to rethink their asset base and rethink their ecosystem and really understand how and where they're going to create value in the future.

And then what role their organizational structure will play in that—whether they can move into aspects of platform, whether they need to source different capabilities from third parties that they currently provide inside in their asset base or whether they need to invest in new point products or services independent of the platforms in the market.

Read the Bain Brief: The Firm of the Future

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