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Four Essential Business Model Innovation Examples for the Modern Enterprise

By: SEI Team


In today’s business landscape, organizations must be agile and open to new ideas to keep pace with ever-changing market dynamics. Fortunately, business model innovation can be a powerful tool to help companies unlock their potential value and gain the sustainable, competitive advantage they need. While product and service innovation are necessary to remain relevant, it is the innovative restructuring of a company’s business model that can truly drive transformative growth. By reevaluating and reinventing the ways in which they create and deliver value to customers, companies can discover new opportunities, improve profitability, and — most importantly — maintain that competitive edge.

Although business model innovation offers significant potential for organizations, it can be a complex undertaking. In order to achieve a successful transformation, it is essential to adopt a strategic approach and possess a deep understanding of various methodologies to apply the right one for an organization’s unique needs.

Our goal in the following sections is to explore some of the most effective types of business models, providing valuable insights into the strategies that have transformed industries and spurred growth for companies across the globe. Alongside each approach, we’ll examine business model innovation examples that showcase the power of these strategies in action.

What is Business Model Innovation?

Business model innovation involves the evaluation of a company’s existing business model to identify opportunities for improvement. At its core, the objective is to optimize, innovate, and implement new ways of delivering value to customers while generating revenue for a company. This can be done using a range of practices, such as identifying new customer segments, developing new products or services, creating new channels for distribution, or leveraging new technologies to improve operational efficiency. Using this approach successfully requires a thorough understanding of customer needs, market trends, and industry dynamics.

This is where diving into different innovative strategies and techniques comes into play, providing organizations with the tools they need to kick off a business model innovation project with confidence. Let’s explore four of the most effective methodologies that companies can use to drive growth and success.

1 – Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive innovation is a well-known approach to business model innovation that has been successfully employed by major companies like Uber and Netflix. This approach involves creating a new business model that disrupts an existing market by creating a new technology or product that enables a company to offer customers a lower-cost or more convenient solution that may not currently exist. To achieve this, you must identify a market that is underserved or overlooked by current players and develop a new way of delivering value that meets the needs of that market.

Uber, for example, disrupted the traditional taxi industry by offering a more convenient and accessible alternative. By developing a mobile app that directly connects riders with drivers, Uber created a new business model that leveraged technology to disrupt the pre-existing market. Much in the same way, Netflix revolutionized the entertainment industry by fundamentally changing how we consume media through streaming services. By embracing the transformative potential of digital technology and delivering content in an on-demand, subscription-based model, Netflix effectively flipped the script on traditional cable and broadcast television. This paradigm shift has forced legacy players to adapt or risk becoming obsolete.

Similar companies have emerged since Netflix and Uber’s inception, underscoring the effectiveness of disruptive innovation in predicting and meeting future needs. It can serve as a powerful tool for pioneering new approaches and giving your business a competitive edge.

2 – Platform Innovation

Platform innovation is another approach to business model innovation that has become increasingly popular in recent years. With this methodology, a company creates a platform that allows third-party developers to create and offer new products and services to customers. This approach can be particularly effective in industries where network effects play a significant role, such as social media or e-commerce.

Platforms such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google are prime examples of this approach in practice. These world-renowned brands have created entire ecosystems that enable developers to build on top of their existing infrastructure, creating new products and services to deliver additional value to their customers. By providing a platform for others to innovate, these companies are able to leverage the collective creativity of a large community of developers and entrepreneurs.

The key to successful platform innovation requires more than just creating a platform and inviting developers to join. Companies must establish a solid foundation that provides a robust infrastructure for developers to build on, including access to data, tools, and resources. It’s essential to ensure the platform is user-friendly, scalable, and secure to integrate seamlessly with other systems and platforms.

3 – Revenue Model Innovation

Revenue model innovation is a methodology that focuses on identifying new ways to generate income or capture value from a company’s current products or services. This approach involves rethinking and adapting the organization’s revenue model to capitalize on untapped opportunities.

A prime example of a company that has successfully employed revenue model innovation is Adobe Systems. Adobe, traditionally known for software products like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat, initially sold these software packages as one-time purchases, with customers paying a large upfront fee to own the software. However, as the market evolved and customers began to demand more flexibility and regular updates, Adobe recognized the need for a change in its revenue model.

In 2013, Adobe transitioned from a perpetual licensing model to a subscription-based model with the introduction of Adobe Creative Cloud. This transition to SaaS allowed customers to access Adobe’s suite of creative software tools for a monthly or annual fee. The shift not only provided customers with greater flexibility but also led to a more predictable and recurring revenue stream for Adobe. As a result, the company has experienced significant growth, with its stock price increasing substantially since the introduction of Creative Cloud.

Adobe’s successful revenue model innovation demonstrates how businesses can strategically adapt their revenue models to better serve customer needs and secure a more sustainable financial future.

4 – Customer Engagement Innovation

Companies need to seek ways to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. One effective approach is to transform how a company interacts with and builds customer relationships. Commonly known as customer engagement innovation, this methodology aims to provide personalized experiences, exceptional customer service, or targeted marketing efforts to improve consumer satisfaction. The approach often leverages digital technologies and data-driven insights to create a more seamless, convenient, and meaningful interaction between the company and its customers.

Starbucks is a great example of a company that has successfully embraced this approach. The coffee giant has built a reputation for creating a unique and welcoming in-store experience, but recognized the need to adapt as customers began to expect more digital interactions. To address this, Starbucks innovated its customer engagement strategy, leveraging digital technologies such as a mobile app to create a more personalized and convenient experience that resonated with customers.

The company used data collected through its app to analyze customer behavior, preferences, and purchase patterns, enabling it to make more informed decisions about store locations, menu offerings, and marketing strategies. By creating a seamless digital and physical experience and utilizing data-driven insights, Starbucks elevated customer engagement to new heights.

Innovate to Succeed with SEI

The ability to pivot and respond quickly to emerging challenges and opportunities is essential for companies to survive and thrive in today’s economy. These are just four of the many approaches to business model innovation your organization could take, and deciding which one is right for you is the real challenge. That’s where we can help.

At SEI, our experienced business transformation consultants are dedicated to providing clients with the strategic guidance, innovative thinking, and practical methodologies necessary to navigate the path to successful business model innovation. By leveraging our extensive experience and industry insights, we help clients identify new opportunities to grow.

Contact us today to discover how we can help you innovate and discover new ways to drive long-term success.