Business Models

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How Business Ecosystems Rise (and Often Fall)

  • Frontiers

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 13 min 

It’s tempting to look at high-profile business ecosystems and assume that the model is a reliable formula for success. In fact, many ecosystems never earn a significant market share, and only about 15% dominate their markets over time. An analysis shows that most share a common life cycle, with several critical windows along the way. For management, the key is understanding these windows and adjusting the company’s strategy over time to meet the unique requirements of each.

How Digital Platforms Have Become Double-Edged Swords

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 13 min 

The most valuable companies in the world have harnessed platforms’ power to achieve rapid growth and market dominance. But as these platforms have grown in size and scale, the opportunity for abuse has become very real — while profitability isn’t coming easily even for successful platforms. In an interview with MIT SMR, the authors of The Business of Platforms bust the myths and outline the pitfalls of platform strategy.

Beat the Odds in M&A Turnarounds

While M&A deals and turnarounds are individually hard to pull off, combining the two can be even more challenging. Yet an analysis of roughly 1,400 M&A-based turnarounds between 2005 and 2018 shows that six management actions can help acquiring companies improve their odds of success. The rewards can be considerable. Successful buyers generate gains in both revenue growth and profit margins, and — most important — better returns.

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The Myths and Realities of Business Ecosystems

  • Frontiers

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 13 min 

The rise of ecosystems requires a new way of thinking about business: the ecosystems perspective. If we can describe this unique perspective, and clear up the myths and confusions surrounding the use of the term, we position ourselves to design strategy effectively in ecosystems.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

How Platform Strategies Continue to Create Value

  • Read Time: 6 min 

Platform companies continue to surprise and challenge conventional approaches to creating value. The 2018 MIT Platform Strategy Summit brought together innovative leaders who are playing a major role in the changing digital economy. Learn from their experience with five major principles for creating new value with platforms.

MIT SMR Summer Must-Reads

  • Read Time: 1 min 

The most popular articles from the MIT SMR archive reflect the depth and range of management challenges our readers face in areas such as innovation, leadership, strategy, and technology. Authors of these “must reads” include MIT Sloan faculty Nelson Repenning and Donald Sull, plus Clayton Christensen, Albert Segars, Michael Schrage, Sam Ransbotham, David Kiron, Philipp Gerbert, and Martin Reeves.

Global Competition With AI in Business: How China Differs

AI’s largest and most enduring contributions will be in non-technology sectors, and many of them will come from China. Buoyed by the country’s latest five-year plan and enabled by centralized data, Chinese companies are investing aggressively in AI and adapting their business models to make the most of AI’s potential, but unclear business cases and bottlenecks due to lacking technical capabilities hinder adoption.

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Three Signals Your Industry Is About to Be Disrupted

Emerging technology and new business models have created new ways of serving customers and allowed digital leaders to disrupt traditional companies. Disruption rarely comes out of nowhere, however: There are common patterns to learn from and three major signals to recognize in evaluating the risk for your industry.

The Store Is Dead — Long Live the Store

At the same time that many traditional retailers are closing offline stores, digitally native vertical brands such as Bonobos and Warby Parker are aggressively expanding into offline locations. And both online and offline retailers are converging in experience-oriented “showrooms.”

The End of Scale

For more than a century, economies of scale made the corporation an ideal engine of business. But now, a flurry of important new technologies, accelerated by artificial intelligence (AI), is turning economies of scale inside out. Business in the century ahead will be driven by economies of unscale, in which the traditional competitive advantages of size are turned on their head.

Manufacturers Can Also Win in the Sharing Economy

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 8 min 

The sharing economy isn’t all bad news for manufacturers of big-ticket items such as cars. Research from Carnegie Mellon and UC Berkeley says that manufacturers will sometimes be able to charge higher prices to customers who are planning to rent out those goods. In a Q&A, one researcher says that when there’s heterogeneity in the market, meaning both a high-usage population and a low-usage population, circumstances are ripe for “a win-win-win for the borrower, the owner, and the manufacturer.”

Showing 1-20 of 86