Digitization is not new. What is new, however, is the extent to which digital innovations spread into the market, displacing traditional business models.
This revolutionary break with the past is also forcing companies with longstanding business models to adopt new ways of thinking. This represents a threatening challenge for SMEs in particular, as their resources are limited and there is often no clear concept of how to approach the problem.
Wait and see is not a suitable or strategic solution in this instance
and it is obvious that traditional business process optimization is insufficient. Moreover, many businesses have already undergone multiple rounds of restructuring and optimization, meaning that there is little scope remaining for further enhancement.
What should be done? - When developing a strategy, it is necessary to understand the factors that make digital business models so successful (see the box entitled
Factors of digital disruption.)
The customer interface plays an important role in that respect. However, very few businesses are actually successful in centralizing that interface.
In niche areas, however, that is entirely feasible. In particular, this tends to involve combinations of multiple factors, such as personalization and servitization.
Simple blueprints, however, find little traction in view of the often complex constraints that are imposed upon the solution.
What makes the difference is whether or not the SMEs succeed in generating innovative ideas, implementing these ideas in the form of new, market-ready business models.
See the example of innovative business models for the retail sector. Business model innovation in retail
A promising approach for developing your own concepts is the use of
Design Thinking, a method that focuses on the perspectives of customers and employees, and thus also takes into account social aspects of Digitization. Design Thinking was developed in California in the 90s and, since then, there have been many examples of successful DT solutions.