Additive Manufacturing Needs a Business Ecosystem
Speaker: Wilderich Heising, Partner and Associate Director, Boston Consulting Group & Thomas Krüger, Project Leader, Boston Consulting Group
When it comes to realizing the growth potential of additive manufacturing (AM), industry players have been their own worst enemy. Although equipment providers, in particular, have enjoyed high margins by employing a “razor and blade” business model, intense competition within and across value-chain segments has impeded end users’ adoption of industrialized AM applications. As a result, despite high expectations, the industry remains a niche market. To unleash the potential of additive manufacturing, AM players should collaborate to advance the technology, identify new applications, and enable users to fully exploit its advantages. Research by the BCG Henderson Institute points to the concept of a “business ecosystem” as the best way to accomplish this. Business ecosystems have important advantages over classic organizing structures, such as hierarchical supply chains or vertically integrated companies. For example, the partners in an ecosystem can contribute their specific capabilities and co-innovate to develop new products and services. Ecosystems can scale quickly because their modular structure makes it easy to add partners. And they are very flexible and resilient, enabling a greater variety of offerings and easier adaptability to changing customer requirements and technologies. The AM industry can apply many learnings from other successful business ecosystems in order to foster collaboration among independent companies.