In our newest episode we talked to Christian Neumann, Managing Director of Tapio (www.tapio.one), the open ecosystem for the wood industry, about his most important learnings and keys to success when it comes to building a WIN-WIN-WIN ecosystem.
Tune-in to learn more why technology is not a key success factor, how to set up the right governance structures and how to enforce sustainability by collaboration and co-creation.
Started in 2016, Tapio’s main goal is to digitize the wood industry via an open ecosystem. By offering digital tools and applications for manufacturers Tapio operates a global ecosystem with partners in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. But what is the special approach of this open ecosystem?
Basically, it’s about providing an infrastructure, rules and a network to enable partners and customers to cooperate and digitize their production.
Building a WIN-WIN-WIN Ecosystem
The first important fact regarding the Tapio Ecosystem is its differentiation towards the common platform businesses like IoT-Platforms. As Christian Neumann explains: “We want to build the ecosystem where all the machine makers, material makers and toolmakers have one place where they can provide services to their users, which also leverage the synergies we see.”
Therefore it requires lots of technical basics and data functions but according to Christian offering the whole technological ground is not the main proposition of Tapios business model.
“The benefit or our USP we see is that we focus very much on building the ecosystem from a business perspective. So technology is a means to an end, the business network and the solutions are the core and our focus.”Christian Neumann, Managing Director of Tapio
But how to start such an ecosystem? The most important point is to “find a setup where everybody wins”, as Christian marks out. The next step is about concentrating on the user-side pain points and figuring out what and also who is needed to jointly solve each single business case.
On the other side, partners have the possibility to create value even if they don’t have an own application to offer to the customers by just feeding data into the ecosystem and providing information to other applications. Within this concept of cooperation and coopetition every single user of the platform gains benefits in his own way.
Ensure trust by data ground rules
Besides customer centricity, creating “ground rules” regarding the right governance and data ownership, as Christian calls them, is a key approach when it comes to building business models in the digital world. By hosting all the data in Europe, Tapio established a high level of data security and clearly defined access rules to their customers.
Christian continues: “The customer decides who gets his data and he actually does this in our Tapio interface. So, there’s a webpage where he manages his whole digital world and then, he can also say which application, which partner is allowed to access his data. And this is a technology-wise enforcement of these ground rules, because you can’t just connect to Tapio and say, give me all the data from customer ‘A’ – he actually needs to give you the right to read it.”
Enabling sustainability via optimizing production
Since sustainability is an emerging topic for nearly all industries, the wood industry is strongly focused on it from the very beginning caused by existing nature and resource based impacts.
But there is also progress when it comes to the mindset of customers, for example the growing demand for wood based houses. As Christian explains: “Today, it’s also easier to optimize the material usage. So prevent waste by better defining the cutting programs so that you basically use what you have as best as possible. I guess, there are a lot of other potentials in the future to drive sustainability also from a consumer point of view.”
Tapio sees its responsibility rather in enabling the ecosystem users towards a more sustainable consuming and producing behavior than offering concrete solutions which lead to sustainable customer products in any case.
“What we pitch here more is to say we can leverage synergies when we don’t invent things twice or everybody on his own. So this is more the sustainability part about let’s do it jointly, consuming less.”
One last leadership advice
Throughout our discussion with Christian Neumann we gained lots of insights about the challenges and requirements of building a WIN-WIN-WIN ecosystem. As always we asked for one last piece of advice. For this purpose Christian concludes:
“Be focused on the business use case from your customer and then point to technology because technology is only the means to an end and the customer needs to be happy because you solved something for him he wants, or he does not yet know that he needs it. It’s not a technology discussion.”
Thank you Christian for the great conversation and insights.
The complete episode can be listed at your favorite podcast provider.