The typical answer from managers to the question “What is the purpose of your business?” is: “to make money”. Well, that is to some point right but the money comes from customers and therefore the purpose of a business is to find profitable customers. And financing your sales to your customers is only sustainable when you see the cash in your pockets in the end. That basic purpose got lost over the last years of shareholder value thinking.
I gave last week a workshop on business model innovation for a large Swiss technology firm. The firm is well entrenched with its customers, you can almost call the firm a purveyor to the court for some customers. But times are changing and therefore did the new management arrange a workshop on customer centric business model innovations.
That is of course right but: Where is the money coming from? How can you earn money for your shareholders without somebody who pays you? Where is your salary coming from? Is it really the company or where is the cash coming from?
It’s the customer, stupid!
It is amazing how few say it is to create and keep profitable customers.
It is simple, it is a hard fact:
“It is the customer where all the money comes from.”
It is the customer who helps you to pay your salary. It is the customer who finally pays the dividends to your shareholders. Without a customer you can not have the top line (revenue) in your profit & loss statement to pay for all other items that come under the revenue line. Continue reading It is the customer!
Business model innovations sound great as a strategy and if successful you can create a new market and escape the traditional competitors in your ex-industry. But the most important point in any innovation is not to have an idea, is not great execution, but the adoption of the innovation by customers. And that is the crux of business model innovation: The diffusion of the innovation. The TiVo is a perfect example.
Ten years ago the TiVo digital video recorder was presented at a broadcasters’s convention in Las Vegas. People expected that the TiVo as an easy time-shift machine would change the TV industry for ever. The great opportunity for TiVo’s users was to watch a show whenever they wanted and without commercials since they could skip that annoying part. The latter was seen as the death of the TV industry as we know it today since their revenue model is based on these commercials that nobody needed to see anymore with a TiVo. As predicted the TiVo sold well particularly as the price fell. But since 2007 the user base has fallen and the the TV industry is still existing as we know it.
It is the customer, stupid!
The Economist from April 25th, 2009 summarizes the problem with the TiVo very well: “Just because technology enables people to do something does not mean they will, particularly when it comes to a medium as indolence-inducing as television.” Continue reading TiVo: Failed Expectation
In workshops participants ask me what business model innovation would be best for their industry. I am always surprised about these kinds of questions.
I am not the expert for all industries. You are! You are the expert for what you are doing. The participants are the expert in their field. They know the idiosyncrasies of their industry, the hidden mental models of how their trade works. They understand the accepted rules of competition. They should know exactly what the customer values. They should have the insights in the customers’ behavior. And they should find starting points for innovations.
I am not very creative. I was not great in art at school. I was a lousy painter, my brother helped me, I must admit. I never wrote a poem or composed music. But I am extremely curious. I was a pain in the neck for many. Continue reading Ask questions! Ask why!
The THESUS program seeks to develop technologies and applications for the Internet of services. The program is sponsored by the German government and supported by German IT heavy weights like SAP or Siemens and technical universities in Germany.
The program is based on several use cases where technology is supposed to solve a real world problem. The aim of the program is to build with semantic technologies a new and better knowledge infrastructure. For webbies you can also call it Web3.0.
Werner Näf had a very simple idea. If your water pipes at home need to be replaced why not renovate them from within? So he invented the LSE-System. It can clean the pipes from the inside using special equipment, dry and then recoat them and by the way save up to 75% in costs and hassle.
I got lately fascinated by firms that invented new solutions to solve a problem that we all know and where the traditional way was quite cumbersome. I introduced Mr. Krinner in a last post to you. He invented the first stable Christmas tree stand and the ground screw. He just solved an obvious problem.
So did Mr. Werner Näf. If you ever lived in an old house you know the problem of rust in your water pipes and of loss of pressure and water quantity due to congestion by deposits of rust and limescale. If you are the owner of an
old house you know the problem of leakage and high costs associated with replacing the pipes.
The traditional way is to replace the pipes. That means heavy construction work with tearing out the pipes from the wall, lot’s of chiselling, no water for weeks and if the heating system is affected no heating. The traditional way is to solve a big problem with a slightly smaller problem. Usually, you postpone the replacement up to the last minute due to the big hassle involved. Continue reading Great Innovation: Renovate, don’t replace
Often one hears that everything is already invented and that only incremental improvements are possible. Well, tell this to Mr. Krinner. He has invented two products that just changed the way how jobs are getting done. He invented the Krinner Christmas tree stand and the ground screw.
Probably, you never heard of Mr. Krinner and his company. But if you have no problem to put up your Christmas tree straight and safely, than you probably use his tree stand. His tree stand is not high tech, it just solves the problem to erect a Christmas tree easily and with high stability.
The second innovation by Mr. Krinner is as simple as the tree stand: The ground screw. What the heck is this? You probably have never heard of this product category before and right, Mr. Krinner invented this product category. But you know the problem Mr. Krinner solved: Fixing something in the ground. Continue reading Great Innovation: Getting a job done
“We have to pay so high salaries otherwise we don’t get the right people” is often heard from firms even in the crisis. Particularly the failed banking industry was very good in this salary death spiral. Salary was seen in this market as the only differentiators with great results.
I always wondered why the so highly paid managers could not find other reasons than money. Are they so uncreative that they had only the pricing mechanism as the only marketing tool in their recruiting process? Did they ever think about who they hired when money is the only reason why one should work for a particular bank? Can you develop a long-term oriented, customer centric bank when you have soldiers of fortune as employees? Have they every thought about what kind of culture they have created in this process? Have they ever thought about the customer experience they have created with a recruiting policy like that?
Well, the bankers will tell you they were driven by the short term orientation of the investors and the financial market in general. They will tell you that everybody was doing it so they had to do it as well. Continue reading Money as the only differentiator
This video shows extremely well why companies just not need to do more of the same (MOTS) since it leads to more clutter. More clutter in features, more clutter in products, more clutter in advertising, more clutter in PR messages, more clutter of everything.
In this strange world of more of everything simplicity and clarity in your business model helps to find real differentiation, not just little differentiation but radical. Differentiation in the image, the message and the product helps but business model innovation where you create a fresh business model that is based on fresh customer insights is one key to reach this needed radical differentiation.