As software becomes an increasingly large part of an enterprise’s external expression, traditional physical ecosystems—such as suppliers, resellers, and retailers—need to be supplemented, and in some cases supplanted, by new software ecosystems.
Consider Walgreens, a customer of my employer, Google. To interact with customers, Walgreens doesn’t merely operate physical stores and provide first-party apps and websites. On the contrary, it also expresses core services—such as filling prescriptions or ordering photo prints—as APIs. This enables developers and partners to easily integrate Walgreens services into their own products, which in turn enables Walgreens to extend its brand presence into ecosystems it neither owns nor had to build.