What Are Virtual Business Ecosystems?

Virtual business ecosystems (VBEs) are virtual networks of interconnected businesses and individuals that operate primarily in the digital space to create and deliver value. They leverage the virtual organization as organizational structure and new technologies incuding since the democratization of AI in 2022 leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to facilitate co-creation, collaboration, knowledge, experience and information sharing between all members of the virtual business ecosystem.

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Here’s a breakdown of the key characteristics of VBEs:

  • Digital Platform: VBEs are built around a central offline or online digital platform that connects all participants and facilitates interactions. This platform can be a marketplace, a social network, a cloud-based application, or a combination of these.
  • Network of Participants: VBEs involve various participants, including businesses of different sizes (large corporations, startups, scaleups, SMEs), individuals (freelancers, independent contractors), and sometimes even technologies (AI, machine learning algorithms) that contribute to the value creation process.
  • Collaboration and Sharing People: VBEs foster collaboration between participants, allowing them to share people, relevant expertise, information, data and other physical resources. This can lead to the development of new products, services, and business models.
  • Value Creation: The ultimate goal of a VBE is to create value for all participants, for all members. This value can be in the form of increased revenues, improved efficiency, access to new digital blue oceans or offline markets but in always in better customer experience for the customers of the leading digital platform.

Benefits of VBEs:

  • Serving New Digital Blue Oceans: VBEs can provide businesses with access to new groups of customers in new digital blue oceans that they might not be able to serve on their own.
  • Increased Innovation: VBEs bring together diverse participants with unique competencies, capabilities, skills and perspectives, which can spark different types of innovation including new online services, new digital products and new physical products
  • Improved Quality & Lower Costs: Sharing people and expertise within a VBE can help businesses to improve quaity, operate more efficiently and reduce organizational costs.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability: The virtual organizational design of VBEs and especally the leading virtual company at the center allows them to be flexible and adaptable to fast changes in the external business environment.

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Examples of VBEs:

  • E-commerce marketplaces (Amazon, eBay): These platforms connect buyers and sellers, allowing businesses to reach a wider audience and sell their products online.
  • Freelancing platforms (Upwork, Fiverr): These online platforms connect businesses with freelance professionals including AI Freelancers and AI Side Hustlers, allowing them to access a wider pool of talent and complete projects more efficiently.
  • Social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok): These platforms connect businesses with consumers, allowing them to build brand awareness, engage with customers, and sell products and services directly.
  • LinkedIn: This online platform mainly connects people that are looking for a job and recruiters and HR-professionals looking for managers and employees and individuals and companies providing products and services to those large companies and organizations.

Overall, virtual business ecosystems are powerful innovative organizational forms of the virtual organization for networks of diferent types of businesses of all sizes to collaborate, innovate, and create value in the digital age.

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