The 5 levels of a Digital Business Ecosystem

In this article, Jaco Viljoen discusses the five levels of a digital business ecosystem (DBE), He explores the idea that “choice is good because context counts.” The five levels, each with its own set of capabilities that build one on top of another, are: waterfall/traditional, hybrid Agile (a combination of waterfall and Agile), regular delivery, continuous delivery, and continuous exploration. The five DBEs provide insight into which process-building blocks to apply. Viljoen also discusses using a framework to achieve business agility at scale. Download the full article here:

Business agility is the goal of nearly every enterprise today, but it is proving an exceedingly difficult one to achieve. The already complex undertaking is made more so by the plethora of choices in the diversity of frameworks and methodologies pushed by pundits, vendors, consultancies, and industry researchers. This complexity emphasizes that we must be able to define business agility before we try to achieve it. Knowing what it is helps provide the destination to which we can attach our point of departure and, ultimately, leads to a roadmap of how we can move from the current state to the desired state.

5 DBE Levels on the Road to Business Agility

The good news is that figuring out what choice to make from the potential minefield of complexity becomes easier when you have a standard by which to assess your current level of business agility based on specific indicators.
As shown in Figure 1, there are five DBE levels (each with its own set of capabilities that build one on top of another):

  1. Waterfall/traditional (the lowest level of agility)
  2. Hybrid Agile (a combination of waterfall and Agile)
  3. Regular delivery
  4. Continuous delivery
  5. Continuous exploration (the highest level of agility, which hints at that moving goal mentioned earlier)

Using the 5 Ecosystems to Guide

Your Enterprise Improvement And now to the meat of the matter: how do you use these five ecosystems to help improve business agility? First, you must know that each DBE has seven clusters of capabilities (refer to Figure 1):

  1. Business agility mindset
  2. Collaboration
  3. Flow/lifecycle
  4. Delivery
  5. Adaptation (meaning responsiveness or sense and respond)
  6. Value
  7. Continuous improvement