Decoding Ecosystem Managers

PwC Study: Companies are doubling down on external collaboration to innovate and create value, but their ecosystem managers are often not sufficiently empowered to do this successfully within their organisation.

Your expert for questions

Florian Nöll, EMEA Startups, Scaleups & Venturing Leader at PwC Germany

Florian Nöll
EMEA Startups, Scaleups & Venturing Leader at PwC Germany
Phone: +49 160 90591673

Business ecosystems can drive innovation, create value and open doors to new markets

Many successful company leaders embrace the core principle that business ecosystems can foster innovation, generate value, and open doors to new markets. Indeed, PwC research shows that top-performing organisations are considerably more likely than their peers to have a clear ecosystem strategy and to generate a significant portion of their revenue from ecosystems. Seeking faster transformation through ecosystems (such as mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and partnerships) offers a higher return compared to actions with limited impact (e.g. product development and pricing strategies).

This recent survey conducted by PwC Germany has highlighted a challenge that could hinder companies from fully realising the potential of these collaborations: a lack of empowerment among ecosystem managers. In collaboration with the WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management and Ecosystemizer, PwC has designed and executed a survey involving 130 European ecosystem managers. 

Key findings

Despite their crucial role, many ecosystem managers are constrained by part-time engagement. The study reveals a notable misalignment between the responsibilities imposed on these managers and the time they have at their disposal. Such disparity could potentially impede the optimization of benefits within the business ecosystem.

Chart: Time spent on ecosystem management

The chart above indicates that many businesses, whether intentionally or inadvertently, have relegated the role of ecosystem management to part-time status, at best. Close to 60% of ecosystem managers allocate less than half of their work week to crucial tasks such as managing relationships, analysing partner opportunities, tracking performance or leveraging new technologies/business models.

Remarkably, even those dedicating 10 hours or fewer per week are expected to handle approximately seven out of the 11 critical responsibilities - a workload comparable to that of colleagues dedicating 31 to 40 hours per week to these tasks. 

Three Key Recommendations for C-level action

First, we emphasize the need to make ecosystem management a dedicated collaboration among multiple people instead of a sporadic solo activity.

Second, we stress the importance of dedicated education and training across all organizational levels to cultivate a robust foundation for successful ecosystem management.

Finally, we point to the need for more empowerment and decision-making ability for ecosystem managers to fully fulfill their strategic responsibilities.

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These actions signify a fundamental shift in the corporate mindset, placing ecosystem management at the core of an organisation’s strategy and growth objectives.

Explore the full survey of ecosystem managers.

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Florian Nöll

Florian Nöll

Partner, EMEA Startups, Scaleups & Venturing Leader, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 160 90591673

Axel Deniz

Axel Deniz

Director Corporate Development & Innovation, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 151 53341766

Alexander Rösch

Alexander Rösch

Lead Ecosystem Expert Hub, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 173 7067401