Innovative business model - but how?


Our tips for company leaders

Digitalization more and more gains momentum. At the same time, some of us find themselves at the very beginning. In many cases, focus is on IT processes, data and digital tools. Thus, many companies miss out what really matters in the digital age: innovative business models that meet market and customer needs. What are key success factors?

We interviewed some of our innovation and technology experts about “successful business development” in the digital age. Be inspired by their experiences and thoughts relating to their collaboration with leading brand, trading and technology corporations …


# 1 Identify opportunities CROSS-market and -industrY

To stay on track in the digital age, keeping an eye on new business opportunities, technology trends and competition is essential. Thereby, decision makers need to broaden their perspectives for all the opportunities that arise around markets and companies. Market research, trend studies and segment reports are not very helpful for that. Markets are only as big as you define them. Is a 25% market share in the coffee market at AC Nielsen a real success story? In other words: are we still able to quantify markets today? Borders between retail and online sales (with or without Amazon) become blurred and new direct to consumer offers like online roast market places enter the market.

Another example: real estate business. To be successful in the digital age a combination of own strength and new innovative digital services is vital. There are many reasons for real estate and property tech startups to be assessed with > € 100 M market value – without having any sand, stone or mortar in their storage. Thus: Become faster. Stay on the pulse of time. From early stage scouting to creative business development. The only way to do it is to do it! Only companies willing to proactively identify opportunities in the digital age across different markets and categories, will be able to rock the future.


# 2 Think and act in a variety of innovation categories

Think outside the box. Identify trends and new technologies across different innovation categories. Recognize and utilize business opportunities at very early stages. Be faster than competition. Think and act – not only in new product and services – but also in opportunities that predict scalable values. Why expanding product lines again and again so that customers become unable to recognize teeny-weeny differences?

It is much more promising to invest time and power of employees, partners and suppliers in opportunities that open new horizons.

We from EARLY BRANDS have recognized: most valuable business opportunities were developed in the mix. Integrate strength like strong brands, knowhow and employees into innovative business model development. Combine different ideas with new technologies in a user-relevant and creative way.

Bunte Glühbirne auf grauer Wand mit unterschiedlichen Innovationskategorien

It is not very promising to spent time solely with product and sales optimization with endless development loops. Just think about Kodak, Nokia and the Deutsche Landesbanken. Even the most detailed stage-gate-process, strategic presentations and exhaustive plannings from more than 100 pages could not prevent what happened. In our digital age it is not important how “premium” or “cheap” a product is – there might be no market for that tomorrow. Disruption takes place every day – so let’s be prepared


# 3 Continuously reinvent yourself

The digital age is characterized by speed and dynamics. Would the Volksbank in “Schnickschnackwinkel” have thought that most of their customers prefer PayPal to pay their online purchases, ten years ago? Would PayPal have thought that decentralized paying systems via blockchain were able to disrupt PayPal’s business model, 2 years ago?

It is necessary to continuously put business models to the test . Further develop, dismiss and redesign – agile, flexible and with minimal risks. BUILD-MEASURE-LEARN close to the customer from day 1. Adjust your business to the needs of customers and steer them in new, market-relevant directions. Use innovative ideas and the power of creative people to find new ways – from new valuable income streams, higher productivity through to improvements of customer satisfaction or sustainability. Rediscover opportunities and precisely enhance ideas. For success in the digital age.


# 4 Focus: people, needs, ideas

Innovation and technologies do not provide guarantee for success in the digital age. The greatest idea and the most innovative business model are not valuable without one crucial success factor: PEOPLE. Let us think about it: Who proactively and jointly develop ideas and bring innovations to success? – your employees. Who step-by-step steer ideas in market-relevant directions? – your users. Who provide knowhow and expertise and collaboratively accelerate success in the digital age? – your ecosystem partners. Who create room for new ideas and changes? – your management and leadership. People 1st form creative ideas to market success.

Innovations Team jubelt über Erfolg

# 5 Many roads lead to success

Incubator rather than accelerator program? Either focus on internal ideas and an external innovation team or EARLY BRANDS innovation and technology consulting? Co-creation rather than in-house developments?

The answer for these questions: there is no “either or” or “rather than”. When developing your business, there is no crucial way that can guarantee success. Competition is hyper-fast and aggressive. Thus: Exploit different innovation options. Maximize and multiply opportunities. Do not think in “silos” but join employees’ ideas with the power of strong partners like innovation consulting, tech partners, suppliers etc. Combine internal and external information and simultaneously evaluate strategic investment options. It is not about finding the right way but: striking new paths, exploring different options and precisely find those opportunities that promise highest market success.


# 6 Diversified DYNAMIC portfolios

In the digital age a dynamic portfolio with innovative business opportunities is more important than ever before. That means to build potential action fields that enable to focus on business opportunities with high relevance for the near future. Concentrate on exploration and realization of most promising new business models. Keep the flexibility to start new market-relevant innovation initiatives ad hoc. Continuously enrich dynamic portfolios and flexibly adapt new developments and trends. Like Spray & Pray.

“Agile portfolio management“ is very important for business‘ success today. Additionally, it is essential to continuously identify new innovation and technology opportunities. Combine them with internal and external ideas. Thus, you act on a pioneer position that makes you FIT FOR THE FUTURE.

Junge Frau mit Spray-Dose und Schriftzug Spray and Pray

# 7 Challenge spending behavior

New ideas and innovative business models can only rock forward if appropriate financial and human resources were invested. Money + people to proactively shape the future. Thus, new business model development makes us rethink our habits: Is a billion-dollar manufacturing company, investing € 150 million a year in the modernization of manufacturing facilities but only spending single-digit millions in the identification and realization of innovative, technology-driven business models, still be able to survive in the digital age? Can huge corporative banks like Volksbank or Sparkasse survive without shifting some investments from new customer acquisition to innovation activities? Why is Amazon much more successful than Wal-Mart?

One answer for this question: Investment and budget behavior. Focus on what really matters today: research and innovation. Experiments with new business models. This is illustrated on a R&D budget comparison. Among the top ranked US companies by R&D spent, there is no trading or consumer goods company listed. Whether construction, brand company or bank: without shifting advertising and production budgets towards innovation and technology-driven business models there will be no successful future.

Stay on the pulse of time. Do not allow competition to overtake. Certainly, it is much easier to invest in new production facilities and M&A activities than to promote 5 to X new ideas. Equivalent values are easy to be calculated with all the knowledge backgrounds. Also, investment banks often have great reasons why to takeover a company. But: 87 years old, Warren Buffet earns more money with dividends and gains from Apple then from his favorite restaurant McDonalds + Coca-Cola.

Also, it is not without reasons that tech investor Softbank is one of the most successful companies in the world. Showing courage in the digital age will be rewarded! Of course, Public Enemy is a good thing but “old school behavior” and “same procedure as every year” like in Dinner for One is not…


Catch the Future …!