By: Tiina Valjakka and Katri Valkokari
No matter how excellently a network works, it will lose its competitive edge if it lacks the ability to renewal. The central question from the perspective of an integrator is how to utilise the innovation potential of the entire network?
A network can renew itself both by identifying new potential partners and utilising the existing resources in a new way. Switching roles from the integrator to the integrated is one way of renewing a network (see previous post). Networks are alive and their borders are not static, and typically the actors belong to several networks. For this reason, the integrator should find a balance between integrating the operations of the current service network and the freedom of the network actors, in order to maintain the attractiveness of the network.
Knowing the network and attracting the best partners
“The key to success is that you really know the customers and your network. It’s a demanding task but only that way you are able to develop the business” – Mervi Heino, Managing director, Arpré Oy
Companies develop and grow through the right partners, and therefore the criteria for partnership and the means of attracting the best partners in your network are crucial. The attractiveness of a network can be enhanced by, e.g., having ready customer contacts; a well-defined operating model; and the opportunity to develop and boost the business operations of each network actor as a part of the larger whole. The network capability of an integrator also includes facilitating the internal interaction between the different levels and actors within the network, and enabling the development of its network partners. Knowing the network helps in identifying new business opportunities. Efforts can be made to better utilise network’s innovation potential: Analysing the network as well as the network relationships supports the development of new ideas and creates new opportunities for interaction.