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In the B2B platform economy, companies are looking beyond just selling products and are building platforms that enable others — customers, suppliers, and partners — to create value.
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As consumers gain more choices in how they buy products and interact with brands, consumer packaged goods companies can no longer rely on retailers for sales customer feedback. Instead, brands must take a direct-to-consumer approach across the life span of the customer relationship.
In recent years, a handful of Chinese companies like Alibaba, Haier, and Tencent have garnered a lot of attention as they have emerged as global innovators. They are challenging the R&D strategies of foreign companies and offering lessons on how to make ideas commercially viable. But there’s another, less obvious force to be reckoned with in China: thousands of innovative companies that are quietly disrupting numerous industries and developing new products and new business models.
Few business websites offer features that simplify transactions, create deep customer relationships, and drive sales growth. To succeed, they need to personalize and customize their online selling process through high-performance technology and customer-centered business models.
Digital newcomers who understand their consumers can change the economic status quo. This has been true in China and its banking industry in recent years. The financial arms of Alibaba have used powerful consumer experience insights from their digital ecosystems — and altered the nature of competition for incumbents in the process.
Platform companies with the largest user networks offer significant value for consumers. Yet total network size isn’t the only key to competitive advantage; platform users may place equal or greater weight on having access to specific, local, or higher-quality platform users or information about the network or its participants.
By many rights, one might have expected to find Adobe on the register of companies disrupted by digital. And yet the 35-year-old software developer has persevered by embracing the very technological forces ― think cloud, mobile, platforms, IoT ― that could have meant its demise. The result? This legacy producer of packaged software designed for the desktop is thriving.
Banks and financial startups were some of the earliest adopters of mobile-first strategies and now they continue to innovate with AI. Learn about the four pillars driving change and AI adoption in banking and how these strategies can apply to organizations across any industry.
Scholars have argued for years that high levels of diversification harm company performance and value creation. But multi-business companies can do quite well. Those that thrive tend to do three things: They limit the number of business models in their portfolio and support them with a cohesive operating model. They tailor the corporate parenting strategy to the needs of individual business units. And they allocate resources according to the role played by each business unit.
Many B2B companies seek to grow beyond traditional product lines by venturing into new services. Yet they often overlook the opportunity to capture sales from free services they provide. This article outlines the free-to-fee, or F2F, service transition. It shows how to inventory free services (categorizing them as profit drains, distributor delights, competitive weapons, or gold nuggets) and lays out a path for profitably generating revenues.
Each month, the MIT SMR Strategy Forum poses a single question to our panel of experts in the fields of business, economics, and management. This month’s question asks our panel whether ride-sharing platform Uber must develop a self-driving car capability to remain viable in the market.
With the rise of blockchain and adoption of cryptocurrencies, companies across different industries can benefit from the increased trust and transparency these emerging technologies provide. Most executives recognize the need to prioritize blockchain as part of their business strategy, but the question of how to adopt and reskill can be daunting.
Platform businesses, like Airbnb or Lyft, often talk about themselves as if they’re merely matchmakers. That’s a smart pitch — when a company is negotiating with investors. But any platform that wants to succeed will have to learn something Airbnb did: Matchmaking isn’t everything. Success also depends on identifying and mitigating risks for your buyers and sellers. The quantity and quality of goods or services bought and sold on your platform will be proportional to the amount of risk mitigated.
In the digital world, companies need to become a destination for customers. The key is using digital as differentiation and offering customers something compelling. This requires a new playbook for how to do business as well as new ways of engaging customers. The trend is for individual and business customers to prefer just one or two powerful ecosystems in each industry, raising the stakes for leaders to better understand their options and clarify their own game plans.
Executives often look at the network effects of digital platforms as a key source of competitive advantage — without understanding that platforms need to also leverage other factors at play in the local markets and among preferred customers. Network effects can help, but on their own, they offer very limited competitive value.
Companies today will have to reinvent themselves to survive, and every large and ambitious company should be trying to figure out how to become a destination for its customers. Consumers are voting with their mobile devices and choosing from a handful of dominant “ecosystem drivers”— businesses such as Amazon and WeChat, which become destinations for their customers’ needs by offering complementary or sometimes competing services — for each domain in their lives.
Business success today requires taking part in open platform ecosystems. But too many world-class product and services companies find their platformization quests narrowly defined, and end up with constricted or conflicted implementations. The ability of information systems and devices to exchange data isn’t enough in and of itself. Instead, developing new capabilities is the key to platform innovation that will add value to an organization.
The emergence of a handful of high-profile virtual monopolies built on digital platforms has directed a huge amount of attention to the network effects such platforms fuel. But not all platforms are equally powerful. There is a reason why Airbnb is a better business than Uber.
Disruption from artificial intelligence (AI) is here, but many company leaders aren’t sure what to expect from AI or how it fits into their business model. Yet with change coming at breakneck speed, the time to identify your company’s AI strategy is now. MIT Sloan Management Review has partnered with The Boston Consulting Group to provide baseline information on the strategies used by companies leading in AI, the prospects for its growth, and the steps executives need to take to develop a strategy for their business.
A decade ago, Apple’s iPhone cornered the mobile phone market by developing a platform interface that expanded its product from a simple one-task tool to a multitask utility. Using platforms to gain competitive advantage is no longer unique to Apple — it is happening in other industries across the board as readily available platform options grow in number.
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