What's Your Digital Business Model?

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What’s Your Digital Business Model by Peter Weil and Stephanie Woerner

At-a-glance conclusions

  • Recommend for high-level core concepts and building business case for an ecosystem-based business model

  • Insufficient for using as a guide to build your own strategy

More detailed thoughts:

Pros:

  • Compelling case studies across sectors that show clear business outcomes from evolving to an ecosystem-based business model.

  • High-level overview of key capabilities required to make this evolution

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Cons:

  • Calling this a digital business model touches on a pet peeve of mine. These are future-ready business models that transcend digital.

  • I have some issues with the 2x2 itself.

    • Omnichannel is an engagement strategy, not a business model, that should be used by organizations in every quadrant.

    • The distinction between columns is artificial: every organization above a certain size is already an ecosystem whether it acts like one or not; addressing this complexity and applying ecosystem-thinking is a must for any business, including those in the left quadrants..

    • Third, most great organizations participate in multiple quadrants, and I don’t think the book makes that clear.

    • On a related note, the authors seem to imply that the best quadrant is top right; but take a look at PayPal, bottom right, that I could argue is performing better than 99% of most traditional businesses.

  • A critical prerequisite for making this type of transformation is a clear vision and strategy. The authors don’t sufficiently address strategy or how to align an ecosystem around value creation.

  • There is a lack of detail on what an ecosystem is, the various types of ecosystems, and what makes an ecosystem run and become self sustaining.

  • On a related note to 3, there is no discussion of the underlying philosophy and mindset of ecosystem and platform thinking. To truly make this concept work, leaders must develop a basic understanding of complex systems (every business today is a complex system, and they operate on different rules than the linear, mechanistic, siloed approach that’s common today).

  • Required capabilities only scratch the surface on what’s actually required to develop digital/CX maturity.

Overall assessment: As an introduction to the concept and providing the business case, I’d give it 4 stars and recommend it to leaders looking to evolve their organization to thrive in today’s complex environment. However, it’s insufficient to guide foundational strategy or how to think through specific application to complex (especially global) businesses.