Dell and Perot: The end of a business model (innovation)

Dell announced on September 21, 2009 that it will acquire Perot System for $3.9 billion. Dell was the poster child of business model innovation. It had “invented” the direct sales model for PCs. Instead of going via resellers Dell sold its computers directly via telephone or the Internet to its customers. Now, Dell is extending its traditional business into services. Will this work?

I feel very ambivalent about the announced deal. First, Dell pays a premium of a 61% for Perot Systems. That is a huge premium and from my time as an investment banker at Lazard I know it is very difficult to recoup and justify such a premium. But even more problematic is that with the purchase Dell does not solve its problem with its current business model.Quo vadis Dell and Perot Systems

The deal makes sense from a corporate strategy perspective. Dell is suffering in its core business a steep fall in prices. For many years Dell was the price leader but now HP tries to undercuts Dell [update: link no longer available]. The first time in the history of PCs, the new Microsoft operating system Windows 7 will need fewer resources than the previous version, Windows Vista. That is bad news for computer makers that usually expect a big boost in sales from a new operating system.

Dell’s former business model innovation

In the past Dell’s value proposition was to sell individually configured PCs and servers at a low price. Continue reading Dell and Perot: The end of a business model (innovation)

Business Model Innovation and the Red Queen Effect

The blog is about business model innovation or innovation in strategy, some name it strategic innovation. The point is very simple. Most companies try to differentiate themselves from their competitors by better products or improved processes leading to a better cost structure. The problem is that their competitors do the same thing at the same time so after a firework of new products the situation is pretty much the same. You moved forward but your competitor also moved forward. If you do not move you fall behind.

This effect is also called the Red Queen effect. The term is taken from the Red Queen’s race in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass. The Red Queen said, “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” That is the typical situation most companies find themselves in. You move, you move but you gain no competitive advantage. Continue reading Business Model Innovation and the Red Queen Effect