The digital world has gotten complicated. Really complicated.

Between web sites, smartphone and desktop applications, and a menagerie of social media platforms and services, it’s hard for many businesses to sort out where to focus their efforts. Thinking about all of these elements as part of a broader digital ecosystem can bring some clarity.

The term digital ecosystems has been used (and abused) by others previously (see NOTE at the end of this article), but I have never found any previous definitions sufficiently tangible. Most are technical, abstract, or abstruse; they’re just not that useful for real businesses trying to develop digital strategies and execute online.

In an effort to simplify, I propose the following definition for digital ecosystems (see diagram below):

The digital ecosystem of a business is the combination of all relevant digital touchpoints, the people that interact with them, and the business processes and technology environment that support both.

The digital ecosystem for a business is a mix of touchpoints, people, and supporting elements.

Read on for more detail about why I believe it’s important to think in terms of systems, the relevant elements of digital ecosystems for business, and the critical role that people play in these systems.Read More →