I don’t know who first used the term ‘ecosystem’ to describe a technology platform and its dependent products and services but in my view this triumphant buzzword does a considerable disservice to the customer. Allow me to climb up on my battered soapbox for a minute or two and explain my thinking.

When I read ‘ecosystem’ what’s most often meant is ‘one-stop shop’ – the idea of holistic service provision – yet the latter phrase is never used because, paradoxically, it is too simplistic. The fact that the sexier of the two terms has been chosen to describe the most complex relationship a customer has had with a technical product (to date) screams of intellectual dishonesty.

This laziness of thought perpetuates the hype unquestioning of implication. The same mindset drives a ten mile round-trip to the Farmer’s Market each weekend to buy feel-good organic produce and then uses Tesco on weekdays because it’s more convenient.

For most normal people ‘ecosystem’ conjures up an image of the rain forest, woodland or the ocean – you know, natural environments – green stuff that’s good and wholesome, a fact not lost on the marketeers. Granted this is not a specific scientific definition and indeed ‘ecosystem’ may be used correctly to describe relationships within human constructs, but that’s not quite what is meant in marketing – in that world it’s a purloined word press-ganged into promotion.

Customers are savvy folk, never better educated and never more connected. The fact that entrepreneurs and corporates alike need to treat ‘revenue-generating users’ with respect should be a truth universally accepted: there has never been a greater need for transparency in offering products and services. Passing off shoddy synergies, solutions and paradigms is held up to ridicule

Fortunately, it has never been easier for technology companies to open up and define benefits in plain, honest terms. Why not try and use them?

Wikipedia entry for Ecosystem

Image: Library of Congress