Over the past few years, we have seen a mini “Cambrian explosion” of business models, mostly driven by the enabling environment of the network economy (which, according to Wikipedia, is the new “emerging economic order within the information society”). This immensely creative and energetic phase of trialling and testing new business models is reminiscent of the “Internet boom” of the late 1990’s. Of course we know that an extended period of “bust”, attrition and reconsolidation followed the previous boom. However, from that emerged a number of winners and strong business models.
It does seem as if the current “boom” period might be a bit more sustainable than the previous one, except perhaps for an overappreciation of the value of many app-based businesses and some of the associated business models.
Another component supporting the current burst of creativity and creation is the democratisation of business tools (see this Economist article discussing how “cheap and ubiquitous building blocks for digital products and services” are driving new startup creation).
What is exciting is that this process of democratisation of business tools is also driving social innovation and access to products and services in the developing world. The most well-known of these is of course M-Pesa, the mobile money transfer system.
We have also seen an increase in tools for brainstorming and creating business models, such as the well-known Business Model Canvas of Alex Osterwalder and co. However, these tools are of course just that: tools for assisting us in thinking, and one should not get stuck in one particular business model tool paradigm either. Useful alternative approaches to the Business Model Canvas include the Board of Innovation’s Business Model Brainstorming Toolkit. See also this discussion on modifying the Business Model Canvas.
Happy business model trialling and pivoting!
Image from Business Model Generation.