“The extended enterprise”: a model that becomes inevitable?

There was a time when the company lived in a vacuum and liked to compare itself to a “big family”. Between the paternalistic management and the opacity of information, worthy of the heaviest family secrets, the metaphor had all its raison d’être! Today, the trend is reversed. Organizations are opening up to the outside world and integrating everything that makes up their ecosystem into their strategies, making the “extended company” a model that seems to become inevitable.

The extended enterprise, what exactly are we talking about?

The extended enterprise expands the boundaries of its organization by integrating external resources and know-how in order to conduct projects cooperatively. The collaborators are, of course, in the foreground, the employees of the “pilot” company, but they can also be suppliers, distributors, franchisees, partners, subcontractors, consultants, agents, independent workers… In short, all those with experience in the service from the project.

The “pilot” company by uniting the components of its market, it positions itself as an interorganizational driving force. It creates synergies and implements tools that allow all stakeholders to access structured and effective information. The objective remains commercial, but the idea is to achieve it in a more collaborative way. This can take the form of partnerships, co-designs, incubating start-ups with a view to future cooperation, “open innovation” projects, etc. The enlarged company is also, it must be admitted, a consequence of changes in use… The advent, in particular, of the almighty social networks, where everything is judged, noted down, evaluated, boosted the company – which is no exception to the rule – develop the most positive and profitable interactions possible with all your stakeholders.

Extended enterprise… Which tools, for which uses?

The digital revolution was, of course, an accelerator of this new business approach… Brands stopped unilaterally addressing their customers through the mass media, and began to “exchange” with them, thanks in particular to , to social networks . Thus, it became obvious to ask for a customer’s opinion and produce respecting their expectations. Market studies, which were the Alpha and Omega of any product launch, have been replaced by more agile and interactive production and validation methods, such as “POCs” (proof OfConcept). The idea? Submit a “pre-prototype” to your target and validate or develop it based on their feedback. Sharing with customers or prospects means giving yourself the opportunity to assess needs and adapt production as closely as possible to expectations. For this, there are tools like DocDokuPLM that allow you to share even the largest files, including documents or 3D models, in a secure mode. On the supplier’s side, a common information system can, for example, allow the tracking of orders in real time, speed up the receipt of a quote, or even guarantee a more equitable sharing of information in the context of calls for offers. Cloud Computing, namely integrating a hybrid Cloud open to the outside world, has also revolutionized practices, thus ensuring the speed and security of exchanges…

Tomorrow, the company will be extended, or will it no longer be?

The notion of extended enterprise, seen through the prism of large groups, often results in the incubation of start-ups with the aim of driving innovation. For example:

  • the Village By CA do Crédit Agricole it is an incubator that allows the creation of high potential companies from all regions and involved in several domains (energy and environment, housing, health and ageing, agriculture and agri-food and digital services); to develop. The program also provides for the connection of these startups with large partner groups, such as Hewlett-Packard, Orange or even Microsoft;
  • the EDF Pulse Start-up Awards: to support it in its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, the national energy company supports start-ups that offer innovations that meet its “reason for being”;
  • The Leonardo program of the Vinci group is a space of more than 5000 m² located in Paris that welcomes innovators and entrepreneurs committed to transforming the cities and territories of tomorrow. It gives them privileged access to the team’s decision makers, in order to help them implement innovative services and products.

These few illustrations of extended companies do not mean that the concept is uniform, and it is the prerogative of CAC 40 companies. Companies of all sizes can take advantage of this mode of operation using simpler and less costly levers, such as the so-called “horizontal integration” or ” vertical”. In the first case, it is about creating an alliance between companies whose professions are complementary and, in the second, between companies participating in the same profession. All then organize themselves – without dealing with a merger or acquisition – to cooperate with the objective of optimizing their operation and their respective results. In its even simpler form, the pilot company shares its information system with a freelancer during a collaboration to make it easier and more efficient.

To conclude, the extended enterprise corresponds above all to a network of competences. Whatever the density of this network, the principle seems well and truly destined to take precedence over that of the “closed

Valerie Macquet

Writer, writing consultant, author, biographer, adult educator

After having been manager of a communications agency, deputy director of a weekly newspaper, then commercial manager of a team of key account salespeople, I got tired of juggling…

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