Business Model Innovation

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The Five Bestselling MIT SMR Articles of 2019

  • Read Time: 3 min 

This year’s bestselling articles examine perennial challenges for leaders and organizations. From predicting how technology will impact markets and outcomes to creating successful frameworks for strategic decision-making, this collection of articles gives managers practical insights for leading in an age of uncertainty and disruption.

Sponsor's Content | The New Era of Personalization: Why CPG Brands Must Own the Direct-to-Consumer Experience

  • MIT SMR Connections | Executive Scholar Exchange

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.

Understanding China’s Next Wave of Innovation

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.

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Learning From China’s Digital Disrupters

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.

Beyond a ‘Winner-Takes-All’ Strategy for Platforms

  • Read Time: 6 min 

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.

Key Words for Digital Transformation

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.

How Banks Can Lead the Shift to AI-First

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.

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A New Playbook for Diversified Companies

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.

Bill It, Kill It, or Keep It Free?

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.

Preparing for a Blockchain Future

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.

Platforms That Grow Are More Than Matchmakers

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.

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Why Companies Need a New Playbook to Succeed in the Digital Age

  • Read Time: 4 min 

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.

Why Some Platforms Are Better Than Others

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.

Surviving in an Increasingly Digital Ecosystem

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 5 min 

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.

For a Return on Platform Investment, Focus on New Capabilities

  • Read Time: 5 min 

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.

All Platforms Are Not Equal

  • Frontiers

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 12 min 

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.

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