Enterprise: Considering new business models and platforms

IN the last issue we looked at disruptive technology enablers to understand what capabilities exist to support your transformation. This week we look at different ways to use those enablers to either take your existing business to the next level or change your business model overall.

Time for tough decisions

In developing a digital strategy you should have considered possible changes to your business model. Depending on your company’s size and complexity, changing your business model might be a significant undertaking or a quick pivot.

Can your customers derive benefits similar to your products and services from a new entrant’s digital offering in your market? Think of what happened to Kodak and other film-based camera companies when digital cameras came on the scene, then think of what happened to those digital cameras with every smart mobile phone now equipped with a high-resolution digital camera!

Platform architectures

Not too long ago, linear value chains dominated our small market. You could go into a shop and buy a product or service imported by an authorised dealer or a local agent for that product. Then, the Internet happened. Along came Internet-based, multisided platform business models that directly connect buyers and sellers. Platforms such as Amazon and eBay now allow you to buy that same product and service from the comfort of your bed, usually at a much lower price. While Amazon will ship to Jamaica, an entrepreneur figured out that it was cheaper to have the items delivered in the USA and shipped in bulk, thus lowering your cost to receive the item – a business like Mailpac is born. Could you create a local platform for your industry? Can you leverage the existing platforms to sell your products locally and globally?

Mobile phone-based, multisided platforms like Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store took the experience to the next level, creating an app “mall” in the palm of your hands. I remembered a night when I searched for something in a dark place, then I downloaded a flashlight app. Problem solved.

Can you develop an app that offers easier access of your services to your customer? Delivery businesses have thrived during this pandemic. My children have apps on their devices to facilitate the delivery of pizzas and burgers to our home at the push of a button (while simultaneously inflicting pain on my pocket). A friend of mine operated a CD production plant right here in Kingston. I heard him complaining about declining orders for years, and then he eventually had to shut the business down. It is of utmost importance that you be vigilant and monitor all the usual activities that drive changes in your industry. Is your product or service being commoditised? More importantly, is there a digital substitute on the horizon? Can you create your version for the local market?

Those are the questions you should be asking now.

Trevor Forrest is Founder and CEO of 876 Technology Solutions. Christopher Reckord is CEO of managed IT services provider tTech Limited. Collectively, they have approximately 80 years of experience helping organisations of varying sizes procure and implement information technology solutions and transform digitally.