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Building a Service Ecology

Apple posted the biggest quarterly profit for any public company ever last quarter. The milestone is no doubt a product of quality design, innovation and the strategic development of new markets. But it also underscores the importance of an Apple feature that few other companies share.

Apple has aligned its world-class brand with a product/service ecology that offers, encourages and almost demands broader and deeper involvement by its dedicated inhabitants. Apple’s ecology is self-sustaining with iPhones, iPads and computers all sharing their information on the iCloud and sales of devices driving use of the App store. This in turn drives sales of content which further drives device sales. Ecological growth is catalyzed by positive consumer feedback, with reactions to each part supporting an enhanced use of the others.

For wealth managers, the lesson to be learned from Apple’s success is the following: It is often more profitable to position your brand/firm as the center point of an integrated ecology of products and services, the access to which you control either as manufacturer or intermediary, than to be a provider of a standalone offering or a manufacturer of all components in the ecological chain.