A constellation is a group of stars that are considered to form imaginary outlines or meaningful patterns on the celestial sphere. Similarly, we could call a business constellation a group of businesses that temporarily align around a significant purpose. Companies that get together to complement each other and cooperate towards a broad and impactful objective. That notion differs from traditional business partnerships by its impact and number of collaborators.
"Knowledge is a function of being. When there is a change in the being of the knower, there is a corresponding change in the nature and amount of knowing", writes Aldous Huxley in his book. We are living the fourth industrial revolution, and we need to recollect and reassess our knowledge about how businesses interact, compete and collaborate. Digital and new technologies are disrupting companies, business channels, business models, jobs and entire industries. Simultaneously, new generations are coming to the workplace with different mentality and understanding of relationship models. Generations born with broader social reach, real-time virtual collaboration and need to make the difference. The result is a significant shake on before understood permanent business structures, demolishing old patterns of supply-demand dominance and creating entire new ecosystems motivated to collaborate, deliver quantic leaps in human progress, and to launch reinvigorated business concepts.
NEW BUSINESS MODELS
New business models have surged in recent years and new terms coined to define them.
"Frenemies" are companies that compete in one area and are business partners in another. Samsung manufactures most of the I-phone screens and yet is the largest manufacturer of Android phones, making Apple its archrival on Smartphones and the most prominent customer at the same time. Amazon and Microsoft just announced Gluon, a partnership to deliver a new software tool for developers that makes it easier for developers to build AI/machine learning systems. Both are the most significant contenders on Cloud computing solutions, but they need help to fight Google in that space.
"Customer-Partner" is another model that boomed along with the Cloud tech growth. On these networks, a company can be simultaneously a user of one product, a reseller of your solutions and partner on your technology. Let's get a seller of Microsoft Azure as one example - typically a partner. The partner will develop solutions based on Azure and sell to its customer base. Those solutions might live in their websites or transact in Microsoft’s marketplace. That same partner might also resell Office365, and use it as their productivity solution. In that case, the partner will be at the same time a customer of Microsoft SaaS and IaaS and a partner on PaaS, increasing mutual dependency.
"Business ecosystems" are created around big companies that offer market wide strategic solutions. Amazon is a good example of a big business ecosystem anchor, and one of high growth. "Amazon ecosystem, made up of merchants, writers, reviewers, publishers, apps developers, and the information market of commentators, analysts, journalists and feature writers who get the word out about opportunity on the Amazon platform", says the Forbes article. The critical fundamental on those business relationships is that every entity works to the success of the ecosystem and depend on it at the same time. So, a retailer using Amazon virtual distribution system will profit more if the ecosystem grows and vice versa.
New ideas, new models, but we can do better.
BRAVE NEW WORLD
The world has experienced unparalleled growth in the last seven decades and wealth has multiplied and spread. That big new economy we have inherited from the "baby boomers" came with its challenges too. The way we explore resources, fuel growth and expand demand became not sustainable. Time to pass the baton to new thinkers. Especially "millennials", came to the workplace to challenge those notions. Growth can be sustainable, society can be more equitable, and the workplace can be more motivating and fun. Businesses around the globe recognized a new expanding market and started to adapt to this new consumer-user-entrepreneur-employee demands. Those same companies embraced new causes and purposes - recycling, no-GMO, organic, sustainable, ethical, socially responsible, equal opportunity, diversity and more - as never.
A new class of attraction and collaboration has surged. The one motivated by genuine purpose. People want to express their point of view, voice their passions and meaning, and create change by adopting a product or brand and choosing where to work. Businesses recognized the power of purpose and brought it to the cover of their strategies.
At the same time, the new generations can leverage the digital economy to disrupt businesses they are not happy about, and create their clusters when necessary. Or collaborate with bigger ones where there is opportunity.
That movement started to bring closer businesses aligned by meaningful purpose and boost collaboration to an entirely new level. Companies are partnering in leveraging services, aggregating solutions, changing regulations and helping each other to achieve bigger results and transformation. Those are Business Constellations, conceptual networks of individuals and businesses that get together to solve a problem or innovate with no or low formality. Businesses that come together and go at same speed, and make significant progress in critical areas of social, moral, economic and technological development. Companies may be part of many constellations at same time and collaborate on different projects in multiple purposes. A company can offer equal opportunity, partner with the local mayor on developing education and create new technology to support an efficient classroom all at the same time. What constellations is your company taking an active role? We at collectivebrains would love to hear your feedback and ideas on the future of work. Please join our constellation.