Theme digitalisation: How do business models change with digitalisation?

In their post to our Digitalisation blog series below, Jukka Hemilä and Anna Viljakainen consider how the business models of companies will change and what kind of competences the future business activities will require.

The previous parts of the series: Physical product or digital service?, How to navigate successfully through the digital transformation and Digital transformation calls for user-centricity and technological knowledge.

Jukka HemiläAnna Viljakainen

Digitalisation creates totally novel opportunities for business activities and even breaks traditional business ecosystems. Digitalisation is about a permanent change in the ways we act.

A classic example of the transformation brought on by digitalisation is the transfer from the film era to the digital era in photography. Camera manufacturers, film producers, and photo paper manufacturers – in other words, practically the whole value chain – were forced to renew their technologies, processes and operating methods. In order to secure the success of their business operations, they needed totally new kinds of competences. The operators had to adjust to digitalisation and seek a novel role in the value chain and clarify the idea of what will provide new value for customers and other stakeholders. It was an overall change in their business models, where technology appeared as the enabler of digitalisation.

In line with Tuomo Tuikka’s thoughts in the first part of our blog series, digitalisation is a driver in the transition towards a service business. The transition to services is taking place because they increase the competitiveness of companies and enhance their capability to survive the impacts of economic trends. The economic growth in Finland is increasingly reliant on services.

However, a service business differs quite fundamentally from the traditional production industry that we are used to. For that reason, company strategies, processes, sales practices and corporate cultures need to be developed further. We need to change the operating method by which we create services that produce added value. This means that companies must understand what digitalisation means in their business operations in particular. The higher the added value of the services we are providing, the bigger the role of technology in the production and validation of added value. As an example, we could mention the elevator company Kone, which is increasingly transferring from maintenance and development services to People Flow building management services, aimed at producing better experiences to users of buildings. A change like this requires a digitalisation strategy.

As IoT and the industrial internet are on everybody’s lips, broadly speaking, we are living in the midst of a transfer to a digital era. The Finnish Government Programme has set a goal to conduct a study on how Finland could turn digitalisation into growth. With it, the State has promised to create a growth environment for digital business operations, for example, by changing regulations and opening data sources. The role of companies in this transition is envisioned to be the development of new technologies and the innovation of business models, as seen in the Kone example mentioned above.

Time to renew business models?

Gary Hamel, one of the world’s most renowned business thinkers, has stated that competition no longer takes place between different products, but between different business models. Companies should systematically launch the development of their own digitalisation and the business model transformation it requires.

Tuomo Tuikka already pointed out that the creation of customer added value and greater competitiveness are key priorities of digitalisation from a business perspective. With a view to business renewal, we need to understand the new kind of customer value that digitalisation enables and creates.

Our CUSTOR research project has focused on the problems of customer value creation and strategic business development. Our guidebook Arvosta! uses examples to highlight our views on value creation and understanding it (Hemilä et al. 2016). Through digitalisation we can create new operative, financial and emotional value. In addition to enhancing production efficiency, digitalisation also enables new business opportunities and a total reform of business models.

Business model renewal begins with redefining customer value and analysing the opportunities offered by digitalisation. Recognising the opportunities offered by digitalisation is a major challenge, as we pointed out in our blog post entitled How to navigate successfully through the digital transformation.

Digitalisation is a major opportunity and strategic investment that often requires renewal of the business strategy. Strategy creates the direction and framework for digitalisation, following the realisation and understanding of future customer value and the opportunities offered by digitalisation. Business renewal must be managed by someone and its implementation requires different competences.

Courage to combine competences and technologies

The report “Suomi –Teollisen Internetin Piilaakso” listed a lack of vision and a common narrative, as well as the rigidity of the labour market and work communities as Finland’s weaknesses (Ailisto et al. 2015). Development and application of digitalisation requires innovation activity that combines novel competences and new ways of managing organisations.

Internationally, major corporations invest in organisational diversity, or in combining different competences (e.g. Intel, Microsoft). In successful business operations, one must invest in one’s organisation’s diversity and versatile competences and communication skills (Hemilä et al. 2016). In other words, success does not necessarily require development of a new technology, but incorporating technologies and competences into business operations in new ways.

Companies must now seize the challenges and opportunities of digitalisation and create a business model based on digitalisation. We will be able to find the business concept for future success by combining competences and technologies in new and bold ways. We at VTT are pleased to assist you with the renewal of your business operations.

Jukka Hemilä, Senior Scientist

Anna Viljakainen, Research Scientist

References:

Ailisto, Heikki (ed.); Mäntylä, Martti (ed.); Seppälä, Timo (ed.); Collin, Jari; Halén, Marco; Juhanko, Jari; Jurvansuu, Marko; Koivisto, Raija; Kortelainen, Helena; Simons, Magnus; Tuominen, Anu; Uusitalo, Teuvo 2015. Suomi – Teollisen internetin piilaakso. (In Finnish: “Finland – the Silicon Valley of the industrial Internet”.) Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities series of publications 4/2015. Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities. 32 + 4 p. ISBN 978-952-287-174-9.

Hemilä, Jukka; Kallionpää, Erika; Lanne, Marinka; Murtonen, Mervi; Rantala, Jarkko; Ala-Maakala, Mariikka. 2016. Arvosta! – Kuinka asiakasarvoa vaalitaan? (In Finnish: “Respect! How to foster customer value?”) VTT & Tampere University of Technology (TUT). 55 p.

2 thoughts on “Theme digitalisation: How do business models change with digitalisation?

  1. Nice article.
    The Article only theorizes on fact that digitilization requires different business models. Its easier said than done to do business model transformation. Organizations need to realize that they need to change to different business models first and then start on a journey of executing on this.
    Most Finnish organizations blindly adopt a “service” business model without customer empathy, channels used to create demand, relationships with different customer segments, the actual customer jobs that they are helping to do, the transformation of a product oriented resource to a service oriented one, the key activities that they need to change to( processes as you mentioend), and the partnerships that they need to deliver their Value prop.
    On top of this, you still need to deliver on your current business model with old constraints.
    Crossing the chasm will take some time. Most companies fail in the following phases:
    1) Building a “transformation” vision : Finnish companies are notoriously famous for building Castles out of thin air. BHAG is one thing, Executing to get there is another
    2) Alignment and transformation to the new vision requires courage and risk taking. Moonshots require new thinking, diversisty in thinking; Finnish companies are known for their mono-teams, keeping it Finnish.
    3) Leadership needed for this transformation: What got you here today will not get you there tomorrow. Finnish companies are famous for their “quality” (associated more with execution and operations) than leadership.
    4) Service businesses require more customer understanding and Consultative selling. With a mindset of “my products/service is of better quality” with better features/functionality is NO longer a competitive advantage.
    If Finnish companies need to be successful in the future, they need to adapt and play in the world stadium instead of claiming “their Finnish Know-how” and quality (the things that got us here today)…

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    • Dear Raam, thank you for your valuable feedback. I fully agree your comments. We have seen in practice how hard have been industrial servitization and now digitalization is quite similar challenge. Actually, services and digitalization are hand in hand many times. Surely it is easy to say need for business model transformation, but challenging to realize it in practice. We at VTT believe, that with structured way of researching opportunities and by developing digital solutions for real customer needs, the huge competitive advantages for industrial companies can be achieved. Now it is time to react! Best regards, Jukka

      Like

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