Platform Based Digital Ecosystem 

Platform Based Digital Ecosystem

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Platform Based Digital Ecosystem

Following the first Arkwright’s From Platforms to Ecosystems report, this new one further analyzes the building
blocks and the evolution of a platform-based ecosystem (PBE) business model. This second report expands on
the frameworks that can be used to map and design an ecosystem value proposition, rather than analyzing the
applicability and value of these models, which was covered in the first report.
The previous report outlined numerous examples of successful platform-based ecosystems in the business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) space, such as Grab, K-Plus and Line. While platform-based ecosystems
are commonly associated with super-app value propositions, the model also has business-to-business (B2B)
applications. Successful examples include MindSphere, an internet of things proposition developed by Siemens,
Tradeshift’s and Coupa’s procurement and business management solutions and TradeLens, which has been
developed by IBM and Maersk.
Platform-based ecosystems (PBEs), whether B2B or B2C, have become pivotal within many industries.
The emergence of both kinds of businesses stems from the increasing demand of customers for highly personalized experiences and the convenience of ‘one-stop-shops’. The bundling of products, services and enablers
across company portfolios, along with a seamless and integrated digital solution that gives access to all of them,
is the way to meet that demand.
PBEs are highly-evolutionary business models, even if they don’t start their life in that form. PBEs benefit from
enhanced visibility about the transactions that are taking place within a customer journey. This in turn means
they keep evolving by attracting complementary solutions and further enriching the PBE value proposition.
A PBE value proposition can be mapped through frameworks such as the Platform Ecosystem Timeline.
This provides retail- and business-focused companies with a logical structure to evaluate their options once a
target customer journey has been identified.
Apart from the difference in nature of the transactions between B2C and B2B ecosystems, the illustrated examples in this, and the previous, report show that the building blocks, advantages and challenges of ecosystems are
transferable across industries, target groups and customer journeys.

PLATFORM-BASED ECOSYSTEMS — OCTOBER 2022

5

PLATFORMS AND ECOSYSTEM
BUSINESS MODELS

Many platforms and ecosystems have become household names in
the last decade – including Amazon, Grab and Vitality – and have become leaders in their respective fields. Many other businesses are now
seeking to replicate their success and reap the benefits of their business models. This report, which builds and expands upon Arkwright’s
previous From Platforms to Ecosystems1 analysis, provides examples
of how they can do that through business-to-business case studies.

Fig. 1 — Business Models Illustration.

Through evaluating and developing such business models with organizations and investors, Arkwright has observed the potential benefits
that come from clarifying the differences between strategic alliances,
platforms and ecosystems.
3.


STRATEGIC ALLIANCES

1. LINEAR BUSINESS MODELS
— VALUE-CHAIN BASED VALUE
PRODUCTION
— RE-SELLING AND COMPLEMENTING
(INCLUDING WHITE-LABELLING)
— …

2.


PLATFORM PARTNERSHIPS
JOINT ASSETS-BASED PRODUCTION
JOINED CROSS-SECTOR EXPANSION

4. PLATFORMS
— BROKERING
— MULTILATERAL EXCHANGE
FACILITATION
— …

INDUSTRIAL PARTNERSHIPS
STRATEGIC SOURCING
CO-DEVELOPMENT

5. ECOSYSTEMS
— THEMATIC COLLABORATION
AIMED TO A SHARED END
PURPOSE
— ECONOMIES OF SCALE
AND SCOPE FROM THEMATIC
PROXIMITY
— …

6. PLATFORM-BASED ECOSYSTEM
— COLLABORATION BASED ON NON-GENERIC
COMPLEMENTARITIES MUTUALLY
FACILITATING OTHERWISE INDEPENDENT
TRANSACTIONS
— CUSTOMER JOURNEY BASED VALUE
PROPOSITIONS
— …

Francesco Burelli, Steven Jacob and Leni Grahl, “From Platforms To Ecosystems (Developing High Value Business Models)”, Arkwright 2021. https://www.arkwright.com/
project/from-platforms-to-ecosystems-developing-high-value-business-models
1

6

 

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, they actually refer
to different business models and methods of value generation.
The diagram in Fig. 1 proposes an illustration of the different business models and how they are related to each other, while Fig. 2
provides a description of the main value creation drivers.
The Venn diagram groups business models based on their distinctive
value creation drivers. The second and third business models, industrial partnerships and platform partnerships, are permutations of
linear business models. In these partnerships, value is generated by
pursuing scale and/or efficiencies vertically (with industrial partnerships) or horizontally (in the case of platform partnerships).

1

Linear Business
Models

X

2

Industrial
Partnerships

X

X

3

Platform
Partnerships

X

X

4

Platforms

5

Ecosystems

6

Platform-based
Ecosystem

ECOSYSTEMS

PLATFORMS

BUSINESS MODEL
TYPE

STRATEGIC
ALLIANCES

#

LINEAR

Fig. 2 — Illustration of Business Models’ Defining
Value Creation Drivers.

DEFINING
VALUE CREATION
DRIVERS

EXAMPLE

Value in the good or service itself

Arkwright
Consulting

Upstream/downstream agreements along the value
chain, typically, across customer- supplier relationships creating value in the good or service
itself

Apple Inc
agreement with
Corning Inc.

X

Value from collaboration between a closed number
of parties establishing closed platforms, and
leveraging this shared asset, for the pursuit of
mutual economies of scale

Renault-Nissan
alliance

X

Value from facilitation of a transaction or
exchange (regardless from the nature of the
transaction or exchange) between third parties

eBay

X

Value from cross-organisational collaboration
based on finality complementarities. The collaboration value generates value by iteself

A private equity
led restructuring;
industrial
districts

X

Value from facilitating transactions through
non-generic complementarities within targeted
thematic “customer journeys”.
Platform owner controls access of participants

Vitality

X

PLATFORM-BASED ECOSYSTEMS — OCTOBER 2022

7

Fig. 3 — Platform and Platform-Based Ecosystem business model illustration.

SUPPLIER 1

SUPPLIER 2

SUPPLIER N

The remaining three business models are all based on a multi-party
transactions that occur in distinct but parallel value chains. In these
models, a complementary or shared finality is the ultimate value
driver. Fig. 3 provides an illustration of the ecosystem and of the PBE
business models.

CUSTOMER

CUSTOMER A

PLATFORM

CUSTOMER B

DIGITAL PLATFORM ENABLING THEMATICALLY CONNECTED TRANSACTIONS

CUSTOMER N

SUPPLIER 1

PLATFORM BUSINESS MODEL

SUPPLIER 2

SUPPLIER N

PLATFORM BASED ECOSYSTEM BUSINESS MODEL

As in the previous report, this report is focused on PBEs. Regardless
of a PBE’s target group and industry, they have fundamental principles that revolve around their respective thematic customer journeys.
Therefore, the multiple services offered need to be “linked through
non-generic complementarities”.2 These are integrated seamlessly
through a shared interface or account. On one side they provide convenience to users and, on the other, lower the cost of acquisition for
the participants to such value propositions. Consequently, the design
of the ecosystem needs to be strategic as well as consistent. It also
needs to ensure there is a clearly-defined target of non-generic, complementary activities that are linked to a seamless user experience
across services.

Michael G. Jacobides, Carmelo Cennamo, Annabelle Gawer, “Towards a theory of
ecosystems”, Strategic Management Journal, 2018. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/
full/10.1002/smj.2904
2

8

 

After outlining multiple successful examples of B2B2C PBEs (e.g.
Grab, KBank and Line) in the previous report, this analysis will focus
on some B2B examples illustrated in Fig. 4.
Fig. 4 — Selection of B2B PBE examples
(illustrative and not exhaustive).

LOGISTICS &
SUPPLY CHAIN

INDUSTRY IOT
SOLUTIONS

MINING

COMPANY
MANAGEMENT

PBEs, whether B2B or B2C, have become pivotal within many industries. The emergence of both kinds of businesses stems from the
increasing demand of customers for highly personalized experiences
and the convenience of ‘one-stop-shops’. The bundling of products,
services and enablers across company portfolios, along with a seamless and integrated digital solution that gives them access to all of
them, is the way to meet that demand.

 

9

BUILDING BLOCKS OF A
PLATFORM-BASED ECOSYSTEM
SOME ORGANIZATIONS MAY
COVER DIFFERENT ROLES,
AND, APART FROM
THE ORCHESTRATOR(S),
THESE ROLES ALSO TEND
TO EVOLVE OVERTIME

INSEAD Knowledge’s The Five Essential Roles of Corporate Ecosystems3 article illustrated the building blocks, which are reported in Fig. 5.
Some organizations may cover different roles, and, apart from the
orchestrator(s), these also tend to evolve overtime. In the former
Arkwright’s report, Square (now rebranded Block) was analyzed as
an example of an B2B PBE accompanying SMEs along their journey
of opening and leading a business. Their model evolved significantly
over a nine-year period.
Similarly, business spend management (BSM) platforms like Coupa,
Tradeshift or Basware have been continuously complementing value
propositions over the last 10 to 15 years, becoming treasury focused
PBEs for multinational companies.
Their success is dependent on their ability to build an ecosystem
around their business customers’ needs by covering everything such
as expense management, digital supply chain management, and
working capital solutions. In the following, we will have a closer look
at two of these BSM platform PBEs.

Andrew Shipilov and Francesco Burelli, “The Five Essential Roles of Corporate Ecosystems”, INSEAD Knowledge, 2021. https://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/
the-five-essential-roles-of-corporate-ecosystems-16041
3

4

10

Ibid.

 

Fig. 5 — The Five Essential Roles of Corporate
Ecosystems.4

ROLE

DESCRIPTION

EXAMPLES

Orchestrator(s)

Firm or a group of firms that
understands (and owns) the key value
proposition for the customer

Philips is an orchestrator of the eCare
ecosystem that monitors – via wearable
devices – the health of patients with
chronic conditions even when they are
not in the hospital

Core partner(s)

This is a firm or a group of firms that
provides the core customer base
or complementary offerings needed
to create value around the key value
proposition

Salesforce.com and Radboud University
Medical Center are Philips’ core
partners. While Salesforce.com
contributes data analytics capabilities,
Radboud University Medical Center
provides access to customers (i.e.
patients) and also a location to test
new products

Technology enabler

A provider that supports the technological operations of the ecosystem.
These companies could have unique
capabilities allowing the ecosystem
to operate or achieve a competitive
advantage

AWS provides a critical cloud-based
infrastructure for the eCare ecosystem
to operate

Complementors

Their offerings enrich the customer
value proposition, yet individually
they are not critical for this value
proposition to materialize

In the eCare case, these would be
manufacturers of other (non-Philips)
wearable devices that collect health
data and would provide alerts
to patient or the medical personnel

Resellers

They provide the ecosystem’s offerings
as part of their own product
or service

Insurance companies can provide eCare
services to their customers.
Likewise, other hospitals around the
world can register their patients
with eCare

 

11

Fig. 6 – Tradeshift’s Ecosystem Canvas.

MAPPING A B2B
PLATFORM-BASED ECOSYSTEM
(TRADESHIFT EXAMPLE)
SIMILAR TO OTHER BPEs,
TRADESHIFT DID NOT
START OFF AS THE FULL
ECOSYSTEM IT IS TODAY.
OVER TIME, IT BROADENED
ITS PRODUCT OFFERING
BY ORGANIC GROWTH
AND INORGANIC GROWTH
AS WELL AS DEVELOPING
PARTNERSHIPS WITH
OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

Tradeshift started off as a cloud-based supplier financing platform
covering a range of services like e-invoicing and accounts payable
automation.5 In recent years, it has evolved to a fully-fledged B2B PBE
– see Fig. 6 for an illustration through the application of the Ecosystem Canvas framework.
Tradeshift acts as the orchestrator of an ecosystem for core financial
services partners such as Santander and C2FO. The ecosystem is
enabled by providers of services such as Coface and sees the participation of complementary and reselling organizations.
The value added for participating companies results from their ‘community intelligence’, consisting of insight into hundreds of companies running their internal processes and supply chain management on the Tradeshift platform. This generates data about companies’ decision-making,
trade flows, payment patterns, etc. that are then used by Tradeshift to:
a)
b)

improve the services and
attract new customers with regular reports about developments
in international trade and other business insights.6

Tradeshift was founded in 2010 as a dynamic invoice management and
B2B payment platform in Copenhagen before moving its headquarters
to San Francisco in 2012 and pursuing further international expansion.
Similar to most other BPEs, Tradeshift did not start off as the full
ecosystem it is today. Over time, it broadened its product offering by
organic growth (e.g. the launch of Tradeshift Ada in 2017) and inorganic
growth (e.g. acquisition of Hyper Travel in 2016 and IBX Business Network in 2017) as well as developing partnerships with other organizations (e.g. partnership with Invoice-ware starting from 2012). Tradeshift
Pay was launched in 2018, which allowed the company to add renowned
customers like Hertz and Shiseido to their list of customers.7 Ultimately,
this step enabled the evolution to a cloud-based service provider for
efficient procurement, invoice and digital supply chain management.
5

Supply chain Network for ap automation, e-invoicing & more

6

Global Trade Health Index Quarter 2

https://tradeshift.com/press/tradeshift-announces-record-year-and-exceptional-growth-in-every-category-heading-into-2019/
7

12

 

What we want to do?

What is the customer journey that you
want to capture?

Cloud-based BSM platform connecting
businesses (Tradeshift customers)
with suppliers on a B2B marketplace
(e-procurement).
Services for buyers include e-invoicing,
Account Payable automation, virtual cards
for employees, spend management and
working capital solutions as well as supplier
analytics and (digital) supply chain financing
for both buyers and sellers.

Competitors
Ecosystems (or platforms) that provide similar
value proposition Standalone (non-platform)
offerings that provide similar value proposition

Orchestrator
Owns unique value proposition for the customer

Tradeshift provides a cloud-based e-procurement
platform and a number of BSM-related services
with the help of external partners who are adding
analytical, payment and banking services.

Core Partner(s)
Provide the core customer base or complementary offerings
needed to create value around unique value proposition

Baiwang: SaaS (e-invoicing/tax) company opening
Tradeshift to the Chinese market.
Payment partners: Working capital solutions (e.g.
dynamic discounting) provided by external partners.

Technology Enabler

Who is needed to make it happen?

Unique Value Proposition

Supports technological operations of the ecosystem

Coupa: cloud-based full-service BSM
platform including supplier, procurement,
sourcing, expense & contract mgmt.;
integrates with ERP.
Basware: Purchase-to-pay & e-invoicing, etc.
solution; compatible with different ERP
systems; also for smaller businesses.
SAP Ariba: Cloud-based platform connecting
businesses and suppliers; only offers SAP
(ERP) integration.

Managed services: Selected partners providing
important elements of the service e.g. supply chain
collaboration, managing risk with suppliers’ portfolio
or payment processing.

Complementors
Enrich the customer value proposition, yet individually they
are not critical for this value proposition to materialise

Monetisation strategies
Advertising, freemium, cross-selling, data analytics,
transaction fees, payment services, etc.

Supplier network: supplier side of the platform e.g.
manufacturers.
Developer: “Developer Center” for external providers
to buil apps on the Tradeshift platform.

Resellers
Provide the ecosystem’s offerings as part
of their own product or service

Licensing of platform access for customers
with varying prices depending on the number
of elements/services included.
Range of services depends on the Tradeshift
customer being on the buyer- or seller side
of the B2B marketplace.

“Tradeshift Partners” are companies selling Tradehift’s services as part of their own offering to business
clients.

Ecosystem Canvas Model © Andrew Shipilov and Francesco Burelli, 2021.
If reproducing, please cite: https://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/the-five-essential-roles-of-corporate-ecosystems-16041
Mapping of Tradeshift’s business model by Arkwright analysis.

 

13

Fig. 7 – Coupa’s Ecosystem Canvas.

EVOLUTION OF A
PLATFORM-BASED ECOSYSTEM
(COUPA EXAMPLE)
COUPA INITIALLY
PROVIDED A SPEND
ANALYSIS TOOL TO
MID-SIZED COMPANIES.
IT THEN EXPANDED WITH
THE COUPA INVENTORY
AND COUPA PAY SERVICE
INTO SUPPLY CHAIN AND
INVENTORY MANAGEMENT
AND TO SUPPORT ALL
CORPORATE TREASURY
ACTIVITIES RELATED TO
PAYMENTS

Coupa also started as a platform business model. There are many
parallels between the development of Coupa and Tradeshift; both offer accounts payable automation, virtual credit cards, a B2B procurement marketplace, e-invoicing, early payment possibilities, funding,
supply chain analytics, and so on.
However, Coupa goes a few steps further in its services around
inventory management, strategic sourcing and business insights that
derive from the transactions taking place across the platform.
Fig. 7 provides an illustration of the Coupa’s business model within
the Ecosystem Canvas framework.
Starting with an open-source product in 2006 and officially founded
in 2009, Coupa8 operated for 10 years before going public in 2016.
Coupa initially provided a spend analysis tool to mid-sized companies.
It then went on to expanding with the Coupa Inventory and Coupa Pay
service into supply chain and inventory management and to support
all corporate treasury activities related to payments (e.g. expenses
and supplier invoices). This is a simplistic description of what is otherwise a very articulated set of complementary solutions for corporate
treasurers.
To give an overview of the breadth of Coupa’s ecosystem, Fig. 8
shows the different elements and services offered to business customers (buyers) as well as to the supplier/provider side of the Coupa
marketplace platform (top right). Coupa services are illustrated at the
centre of the diagram.9
Four of these (Compliance and Contract Management, Coupa Pay,
Spend Analysis and Spend Guard and Community Intelligence)
provide a wrapper through which the cluster of services from Core
Partners. Complementors are integrated to the overall ecosystem
value proposition.

14

8

https://www.coupa.com/

9

Please server to the Applendix A for the description of Coupa’s own services.

 

What we want to do?

What is the customer journey that you
want to capture?

Cloud-based BSM platform providing
services such as procurement, supplier-,
invoice-, expense-, and supply chain
management to med- to large size businesses
and connecting them to network of suppliers
(e-procurement/B2B marketplace).
Value-add through data analysis of each
customer’s data and across customers
(“community intelligence”); providing tools
to analyse performance and model/predict/
improve e.g. demand.

Competitors
Ecosystems (or platforms) that provide similar
value proposition Standalone (non-platform)
offerings that provide similar value proposition

Orchestrator
Owns unique value proposition for the customer

Coupa orchestrates partners of its platformbased ecosystem; complementing own offerings
e.g. through API integration of external software
vendors or technology partners.

Core Partner(s)
Provide the core customer base or complementary offerings
needed to create value around unique value proposition

Payment partners: CoupaPay services to automate/
streamline payments provided by multiple virtual card
and technology partners.

Technology Enabler

Who is needed to make it happen?

Unique Value Proposition

Supports technological operations of the ecosystem

Tradeshift: AP automation, procurement
& working capital solution.
Basware: Purchase-to-pay & e-invoicing, etc.
solution; compatible with different ERP
systems; also for smaller businesses.
SAP Ariba: Cloud-based platform connecting
businesses and suppliers; only offers SAP
(ERP) integration.

Managed services: Selected partners providing
important elements of the service e.g. supply chain
modelling, expense mgmt. etc.

Complementors
Enrich the customer value proposition, yet individually they
are not critical for this value proposition to materialise

Monetisation strategies
Advertising, freemium, cross-selling, data analytics,
transaction fees, payment services, etc.

Supplier network: supplier side of the platform e.g.
manufacturers (7 million).
Application integration & mgmt.: Companies helping
companies who want to/are already using Coupa.

Resellers
Licensing of platform access for customers
(buyer-side) with varying prices depending
on the number of elements/services included.
Different pricings for suppliers for the
marketplace depending on service range
and special packages for technology partners
developing apps/features for and based on
the Coupa platform APIs.

Provide the ecosystem’s offerings as part
of their own product or service

Coupa is mainly selling their own, but deals
(e.g. Oracle’s NetSuite) enable joint marketing with
a focus on software compatible / integrated with
Coupa.

Ecosystem Canvas Model © Andrew Shipilov and Francesco Burelli, 2021.
If reproducing, please cite: https://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/the-five-essential-roles-of-corporate-ecosystems-16041
Mapping of Coupa’s business model by Arkwright analysis.

 

15

Suppliers
up

a

Cards &
Technology

Co m m u

CoupaLink

nity Intelligence

C

ance
pli
om

& Contract Mana
ga m

Invoice
Management

at
pplier Pl

Available
for

nalysis & Spend Gua
nd A
rd
S pe
Coupa Pay

API Platform

Su

Connecting
to

fo
rm

Co

Payment
Partners

(Tax)
Compliance

en
t

Compliance
Review

Supplier
Management

Strategic
Sources

Procurement

Co

a

up

Expenses

BS

Treasury

fo
rm

COMPANY

t
M Hub/Pla

Contingent
Workforce

Supply
chain design
& planning

Optimize
use

Deployment
service

Financial
applications

Implementation
Partners
Managed
Services
Provider
Partners

Problem
solving

Technical
tools

Application
Management
Partners

Supply Chain
Design
Partners
Management
Consulting
Partners

Constantly growing number
of partners in APAC;
EMEA, LATAM & North America

16

 

Fig. 8 – Coupa’s Business Spend Management
Platform-Based Ecosystem.

The diagram in Fig. 9 shows the extent of services integrated within
Coupa’s value proposition.
Importantly, all of the firms participating in the ecosystem benefit
from their mutual participation: consulting firms or supply chain
management providers (Coupa partners) offer their own clients to
help them efficiently integrate. Meanwhile, suppliers on the Coupa
platform and third-party developers get access to the large Coupa
customer base to sell their products and services. Coupa licenses its
platform not only to the buyer-side but is also starting to offer paid
support to Coupa Partners and suppliers for a seat at the table.
An elaborate list of the different services, as well as an explanation of
the different parts, can be found in the Appendix.
The circles in the middle of the Coupa ecosystem show the different
services Coupa offers to its business clients, including Procurement
Services (Open Buy, Budget, Inventory Management) or Invoice Management (E-Invoicing, Invoicing Automation, InvoiceSmash).
The outer layers represent the overarching services needed to facilitate the others like Coupa Pay or Community Intelligence.
On the perimeter you can find the added services that are either supported by external providers (Coupa Pay) or are more distantly related
to the main offering (Coupa Link). In these cases, Coupa benefits from
the expertise of other providers to enrich their products e.g. partnering with American Express Global Business Travel to create the Coupa
Travel Saver’, which tracks prices for airline and hotels.
Today, Coupa states it has more than 2,000 customers in more than
100 countries e.g. including Nike, Slack, Amazon and Coca-Cola.

 

17

Fig. 9 – Evolution of the Coupa’s PlatformBased Ecosystem (Ecosystem Canvas Timeline, illustrative-not exhaustive).

COUPA’S VALUE PROPOSITION DEVELOPED OVER
TIME STARTING FROM ITS
INCEPTION IN 2006.
ITS CAPABILITIES AND
FUNCTIONALITIES EXPANDED OVER SEVERAL
YEARS THROUGH ACQUISITIONS AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF RELATIONSHIPS
WITH CORE PARTNERS

To bind both sides of their procurement platform (buyers and suppliers) to the ecosystem, Coupa has also started to create a connected
second solution cluster that is dedicated to suppliers. Besides access
to the large buyer network, suppliers can also benefit from e-invoicing,
contract management, catalogue management and shipment tracking for all transactions and orders processed via the platform.
This value proposition developed over time starting from its inception
in 2006. Its evolution is mapped in Fig. 9 through the Ecosystem Canvas Timeline10 framework.
Coupa is the orchestrator of its own B2B PBE as well as contributing a
range of proprietary capabilities and functionalities. These expanded
over several years through acquisitions (e.g. ZenPurchase, InvoiceSmash and TripScanner in 2015) as well as through the development
of relationships with core partners (e.g. Mastercard in 2015, HSBC for
Coupa Pay in 2021, etc.).
While Coupa has always been open for third-party developers to
develop new features and add-ons to the Coupa platform, the focus
has been on a systematic expansion of capabilities. With efficiency
gains at the centre of BSM platform implementation, Coupa has also
expanded into working capital financing solutions to further facilitate
the transactions on the platform. Those services can encompass
seller-initiated options like factoring, invoice discounting and early
payment programs, or buyer-initiated options like approved payables
financing. This creates a three-way-network between buyers, suppliers,
and funders, which strengthens the overall value of the ecosystem.

Andrew Shipilov and Francesco Burelli, “A Simple Guide to Charting the Evolution of
an Ecosystem”, INSEAD Knolwedge, 2022. https://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/inseadblog/a-simple-guide-to-charting-the-evolution-of-an-ecosystem-18081
10

18

 

TIMELINE

2009

Unique Value
Proposition

2011

Launch of
Coupa Spend
Optimizer

2014

Extension
to Coupa
Inventory

Start with simple spend analysis offer

Competitors

2015

2016

2020

Step by step extension of services through
partnerships & acquisitions

Expanding in business
management ecosystem

Launch 2018

2021

Launch of
Coupa
Ventures
& Coupa App
Marketplace

2022

Edded
Environmental
impact
analysis tool

Marketplace as reuniting
platform

Carried forward
Carried forward

Carried forward

Monetisation
Strategies

Monthly
payments by:

Direct marketplace suppliers or other
suppliers (e.g. Coupa partners developing
new features/apps based on APIs)

Clients (companies)

Orchestrator

Coupa Pay partners:
Virtual card & Payment technology

Core
Partner(s)

Technology
Enabler
Acquisitions:
ZenPurchase,
InvoiceSmash
& TripScanner

Acquisition:
Contractually
(contract
mgmt)

Complementors

Acquisition:
Llamasoft (AI
supply chain
design)

+ Supplier network:
Provider of additional
services & goods for the
Coupa Marketplace
+ Business partners e.g. consulting firms

Resellers

Jointly
market
products

Pre-Oracle
deal

Oracle
acquires
NetSuite

Ecosystem Canvas Timeline © Andrew Shipilov and Francesco Burelli, 2022.
If reproducing, please cite: https://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/a-simple-guide-to-charting-the-evolution-of-an-ecosystem-18081
Mapping of Coupa’s business model evolution by Arkwright analysis.

 

19

PLATFORM BASED ECOSYSTEM
EVOLUTIONARY EXCEPTIONS
(TRADELENS EXAMPLE)
THERE CAN BE MULTIPLE
SHIFTS IN THE UNIQUE
VALUE PROPOSITION,
COMPETITORS, MONETIZATION STRATEGIES OR
OTHER ASPECTS OF ECOSYSTEMS AND PLATFORMS
AS THESE EVOLVE OVERTIME

As outlined in a thought leadership reference analysis,11 there can be
multiple shifts in the unique value proposition, competitors, monetization strategies or other aspects of ecosystems and platforms as
these evolve overtime. Most of them start by providing one step of a
customer journey or value chain, often through a platform value proposition, and then expand to other adjacent services. This evolutionary
model has rare exceptions of value propositions that start off as
fully-fledged ecosystems.
This is the case of TradeLens. The “industry-supported supply-chain
data, document, and analytics platform for importers, exporters, 3PLs
and every other party involved in global trade”12 was created out of
an initial collaboration between IBM and Maersk to accelerate supply
chain digitization in 2017.
Global import and export supply chains are known for their complexity. Hundreds of parties are involved in moving products from one
location to another with documentary exchanges and a set of administrative and financial activities taking place at each handover.
From the outset, TradeLens already had 92 participants (including
harbour authorities and logistics companies) when it launched in
2018 with the goal of building a unifying platform-based ecosystem to facilitate end-to-end logistic supply chains. The network of
TradeLens’s ecosystem participants acts both as customers and
providers to the platform, allowing end-to-end paperless supply chain
management transactions with every step being tracked though a
blockchain-based platform.
Fig. 10 provides an illustration of a set of supply chain steps that are
enabled through TradeLens’ PBE in which TradeLens enables an endto-end customer journey in which the ‘customer’ is typically a cargo
container.

https://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/a-simple-guide-to-charting-the-evolution-of-an-ecosystem-18081
11

12

20

https://www.tradelens.com/

 

Fig. 10 – Illustration of a supply chain example
enabled by TradeLens: flowers from Kenya to
Rotterdam.

TradeLens aims not only to reduce supply chain complexity but
also claims to offer significantly higher transparency for all parties
involved. An IBM and Maersk presentation in 2017 already showed
that the system aimed to tackle the problem of organizational silos,
high compliance costs and fraud potential, especially at the point of
customs clearance.13 The goal is to enable a “consistent view of [the]
supply chain independent of who [the] supplier is” with “anybody who
is party to the transaction [able to see] the information” in real-time.
Basically, it is an ecosystem that brings together the whole import/
export ecosystem.

Kenyan
farm
submits
packing
list that
becomes
available
to all
participants

During
transport
to the
port,
three
agencies
provide
their
necessary
signatures

Real-time
updates,
shipment
is quickly
approved,
issue of
e-bill
of lading

Problem
at the
port and
update
are automatically
communicated
to all
participants

Container
Flowers
Container
Customs’
is loaded
shipped to unloaded
approval
on the
Rotterdam
at the
sped up
cargo
port in
with all
ship;
Rotterdam, necessary
status/
location
documents
ownership
is updated in one
continuosplace
ly updated

Coordinated, timely
pickup of
the flowers by the
trucker

Delivery
and
arrival
of flowers
tracked
on the
platform
in realtime

EXAMPLES OF INVOLVED
PLAYERS

DESCRIPTION

SUPPLY CHAIN
STEPS

ALL INTERACTIONS LOGGED ON THE TRADELENS’ PLATFORM

13

 

21

What we want to do?

What is the customer journey that you
want to capture?

Supply-chain ecosystem based on blockchain
technology providing secured real-time transmission
of data to parties involved in a shipment/crossborder trade. Companies/authorities along
the supply-chain can submit and access digital
information about the current status of the goods
significantly decreasing number of necessary
(paperwork) steps in the communication.
Network effect: Increased value for each user
with each company joining – covering key locations
and supply-chain steps.

Competitors
Ecosystems (or platforms) that provide similar
value proposition Standalone (non-platform)
offerings that provide similar value proposition

PartnerLinq: Digital logistics platform for
businesses to integrate and interconnect their
3PL services.
Oracle Global Trade Management Cloud:
service including trade compliance, customs mgmt.,
trade agreements and overall control over orders.
GSBN: Details to be announced; digitizing
trade based on blockchain technology and an
open network (platform).
MineHub: Digital supply chain platform, offering
integrated supply chain workflows.

Orchestrator
Owns unique value proposition for the customer

The TradeLens ecosystem is orchestrated by its
two co-developers IBM & Maersk with IBM providing
the basis with its blockchain technology.
They attract new firms to the supply-chain
ecosystem who are both users and complementors.

Core Partner(s)
Provide the core customer base or complementary offerings
needed to create value around unique value proposition

Apart from IBM & Maersk, it is essential for the
value of the ecosystem to have partners in each step
of the supply-chain (e.g. port & export authority,
customs, cargo owners) in multiple key trading
locations (e.g. US, China).

Technology Enabler

Who is needed to make it happen?

Unique Value Proposition

Supports technological operations of the ecosystem

Ecosystem is based on IBM’s blockchain technology
providing the main services (secure, forgery-proof
data exchange); TradeLens platform jointly
developed with GTD solution (division of Maersk).

Complementors
Enrich the customer value proposition, yet individually they
are not critical for this value proposition to materialise

Monetisation strategies
Advertising, freemium, cross-selling, data analytics,
transaction fees, payment services, etc.

All participating companies and authorities are both
users and more or less exchangeable complementors
of the ecosystem.

Resellers
Although TradeLens was developed
as an open platform and can be accessed
using “publicly available APIs”, users pay
a monthly subscription-fee after a free trial
of 30 days.
Both Maersk and IBM are using it for
marketing purposes.

Provide the ecosystem’s offerings as part
of their own product or service

Currently no resellers apart from participating firms
possibly using their participation as a selling-point
to their respective customers.

Ecosystem Canvas Model © Andrew Shipilov and Francesco Burelli, 2021.
If reproducing, please cite: https://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/the-five-essential-roles-of-corporate-ecosystems-16041
Mapping of TradeLens’s business model by Arkwright analysis.

22

 

Fig. 11 – TradeLens’ Ecosystem Canvas.

Fig. 11 provides an illustration of TradeLens’ PBE through the application of the Ecosystem Canvas framework. IBM and Maersk are
the orchestrators, and at the same time they are core partners with
any participating organization, e.g. a port authority or other shipping
companies, whose participation adds on to critical mass of adoption,
industry and geographical reach. IBM and GTD Solutions, a division
of Maersk, are the technology enablers to an ecosystem that benefits
from a significant number of complementing companies with their
participation throughout the value chain.
It is worth noting that, even though TradeLens had started off as an
ecosystem, this does not mean that it cannot continue to expand and
improve its services. New partners are continuously added to the
platform (e.g. international ports, logistics providers, freight forwarders) and new or improved services are added. In October 2021, for
example, MonetaGo announced its partnership with IBM with the goal
of integrating its blockchain anti-fraud solution with TradeLens.14

https://www.ledgerinsights.com/tradelens-we-trade-to-integrate-anti-fraud-trade-finance-blockchain-monetago/
14

 

23

CONCLUSION

This report builds upon and expands on the analysis of the previous Arkwright publication on these business
models, which contains references about business model definitions and the evolutionary path leading from
linear business models, to platforms, to PBEs. This analysis highlights that, while PBEs are commonly associated
with super-apps and retail value propositions, PBE business models are applicable, and hold significant value
potential, within B2B industries as well.
PBEs are highly-evolutionary business models. Most evolve from earlier platform-based value propositions,
although there are exceptions that are being developed and launched as PBE business models from the outset,
such as TradeLens. PBEs benefit from an enhanced visibility about the range of transactions that are taking
place within a customer journey and, as such, keep evolving by attracting complementary solutions and further
enriching the PBE value proposition through organic and inorganic expansion from the side of the companies
orchestrating the business model.
Their evolution can be mapped and designed through evolutionary planning that can identify paths of expansion
and development. Frameworks, such as the Ecosystem Canvas and the Ecosystem Timeline Canvas, provide
retail- and business-focused companies with the needed logical structure to evaluate development options,
once a target customer journey has been identified. Opportunities would depend on the initial business focus
and might start from a targeted service that is then expanded to adjacent and complementary products, though,
platform-enabled, strategic partnerships.
Apart from the obvious difference in target groups of B2C vs B2B ecosystems, the illustrated examples show that
the building blocks, advantages and challenges of ecosystems are transferable across industries, target groups
and customer journeys.

24

 

APPENDIX A
DESCRIPTION OF COUPA’S VALUE PROPOSITIONS

Services in the Coupa Platform-based Ecosystem (1/2)

26

BUDGET

Possibility to track current spending and set limits; track which
transactions have been approved and which are still pending

INVENTORY MANAGEMENT

Dashboard shows current inventory availability based on (upcoming)
deliveries – Automated suggestions when stocks are running low

E-INVOICING

Turn purchase orders into electronic invoices and send them
to suppliers on the platform

INVOICING AUTOMATION

Based on outstanding purchase orders and spending limits
“matching” bills are paid automatically; approval only needed
for exceptions

INVOICE SMASH

Automated data extraction to e.g. turn e-mails into invoices

3RD PARTY RISK MGMT.

Risk assessment questionnaire and constantly updated risk
estimations based on other transactions of the supplier with
other customers

SUPPLIER SUCCESS

Possibility to connect with suppliers via email, automated
supplier notifications; let suppliers see updates on approvals/
payment status

SUPPLIER INFORMATION

Customers can decide which information is required from suppliers
to enter bids (e.g. specific information about CSR requirements)

SOURCING MANAGEMENT

Customer company can set up sourcing events to collect
supplier bids

SOURCING ANALYTICS

Combined with supplier information gives insight e.g. into
performance of suppliers when working with other customers

AUTOMATIC SUGGESTIONS

Based on previous orders or existing contracts (e.g. nearing
expiration) get suggestions for next sourcing or better suppliers
of the same products

 

INVOICE MGMT

Centralized platform to connect customers with suppliers;
consolidates all the available offers

SUPPLIER MGMT

OPEN BUY

PROCUREMENT

DESCRIPTION

STRAT. SOURCING

SERVICES FOR CUSTOMERS

EXPENSES

TREASURY

SUPPLY CHAIN

WORKFORCE

SERVICES FOR CUSTOMERS

DESCRIPTION

GUIDED WORKFLOW

Workflow for existing and new employees to be efficiently
onboarded on new tasks based on the most important steps involved

MONITORING

Monitoring performance of workforce but also sourcing rates
at the same time

COMPLIANCE

Reduce compliance risk (e.g. labour laws); also connected
to overall contract and compliance management on the platform

SUPPLY CHAIN MODELER

Enables customer to model they supply chain and run design
scenarios (e.g. to identify vulnerabilities) based on provided
templates

APP STUDIO

Tool to help customers develop new apps e.g. to share information
among relevant stakeholders

DEMAND MODELER

Tool with machine learning capabilities to model different
scenarios and predict demand mid- to long-term

CONTROL CENTER

Helps customers oversee and manage finances, e.g. long- and
short-term instruments; involves in-house bank and counterparties

MULTILATERAL NETTING

Have overview over intercompany invoices; tool to optimize
internal financing and cash allocation

CASH FLOW FORECASTING

Connected to multilateral netting to forecast intercompany
cash flow

REPORTING & INSIGHTS

Connected to “Community Intelligence” – collecting and comparing
expense spending across companies; identify savings opportunities

TRAVEL SAVER

Tracking prices for airlines and hotels to capture potential
savings for business trips; takes into account negotiated rates,
travel price assuranc

SMARTER TRIP

Connects platform to mobile app used to track expenses as they
occur e.g. by tracking transports and receipts; automate expense
reports

 

27

Services in the Coupa Platform-based Ecosystem (2/2)
WRAPPER SERVICES

COMPLIANCE

Compliance review (legislative) provided by PwC;
Contract management on the platform for existing and new
contracts e.g. with suppliers

COUPA PAY

Connected with bank/tech partners to reconcile payments:
suppliers, employees, subsidiaries, etc.; domestic/cross-border/
digital wallet/…

SPEND ANALYSIS

Advanced analytics for all types of business spend;
integrated Spend Guard to set and monitor budgets;
Spend Insights from Community Intelligence

COMMUNITY INTELLIGENCE

Data from all Coupa customers collected and compared
to suggest improvement (areas), provide insights on suppliers,
risk management, etc.

PAYMENT SERVICES

DESCRIPTION

VIRTUAL CARD PARTNERS

Partners supporting Coupa Pay virtual card function for online
purchases; e.g. American Express, Bank of America

PAYMENT TECHNOLOGY

Technology partners supporting Coupa Pay services
(e.g. cross border payments); e.g. Conferma Pay, PayPal, Stripe

EXTERNAL INTEGRATIONS

28

DESCRIPTION

DESCRIPTION

COUPALINK (1)

API-based open integration platform to allow vendors
to integrate their products (e.g. tax engines); partners join
the “open platform community”

COUPALINK (2)

CoupaLink also allows external services to develop joint
solutions – potentially invited to build a panel app to be added
to the platform

PLATFORM-BASED ECOSYSTEMS — OCTOBER 2022

SUPPLIER SERVICES

DESCRIPTION

CONTRACT

Coupa customers have access to contract templates/management
which also especially facilitates contracts with suppliers

E-INVOICING

Instant validation of payments and possibility to send invoices
in paper/digital version as they can be directly transferred

INVENTORY MANAGEMENT

Track sales through Coupa to manage inventory and get
necessary reminders; directly linked to supplier information
provided to customers

CATALOGUES

Catalogue management solution to simplify ordering process;
hosted or punchout catalogues (integrated external link to online
shop)

SHIPMENT TRACKING

Follow packages sent to Coupa customers

BENEFITS / PERKS

Provided through partnerships with firms like UPS, Hellosign, etc.
to get discounts for relevant B2B services

BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Provides insights into transactions with Coupa customers;
shows order trends to predict demand

BLOG

Source of information for suppliers on Coupa to help with
the integration of the platform but also other business challenges

PLATFORM-BASED ECOSYSTEMS — OCTOBER 2022

29

ARKWRIGHT PROFILE
WE BELIEVE
IN PRAGMATISM,
METICULOUSNESS
AND IN DEEP
KNOWLEDGE OF
THE INDUSTRIES
IN WHICH WE
OPERATE

Arkwright is a management consulting firm offering strategy advisory services to private corporations, NGOs, investors and start-up
companies. Amongst a number of different industry-dedicated
teams, our Digital, Payments and Digital Banking practice is one of
the most experienced globally, positioning Arkwright as a high-end
digital financial services and payments specialist strategy boutique.
With clients that include major financial institutions, central banks,
technology providers and institutional investors as well as internet
market places and media organisations, Arkwright has hands-on
experience in leading and supporting the development of digital strategies and digital transformation.
Our knowledge of global cases and best practices, proprietary
ideation methodologies and the hands-on experience of our management consultants and industry experts is able to support throughout
the strategy and implementation phases.
We believe in pragmatism, meticulousness and in deep knowledge of
the industries in which we operate. At the heart of our mission is the
development and implementation of enduring performance improvements and growth strategies, in partnership with our clients.

AUTHORS

Francesco Burelli
Partner

Steven Jacob
Partner

When we founded Arkwright in 1987, we did so with a strong belief
that clients’ sustained success requires deeper collaboration and a
different working model than what we experienced at the time. Since
then, our focus on deep-rooted, long-term partnerships with selective
clients has formed the basis of our approach and helped us grow to
what we are today: an international consultancy with Nordic roots,
operating truly globally, from our offices in Hamburg, Oslo and Stockholm and with additional operational presence based in the Middle
East and the US.

Leni Grahl
Associate