Sunday, August 26, 2007

Electronic Offering Model

In the early days of e-commerce there was considerable attention to understanding the phenomena. Nowadays, there is less attention for this in the research community. In the mean time business presence on the web is still extending, both in a traditional (Web1.0) and new way (Web2.0). Therefore, it is still important to preserve and develop our understanding of doing business on the Internet.

While working on new service development and service design I studied the NetOffer model of Grönroos. It is a model of Internet offerings based upon the Grönroos Augmented Service Offering model. Grönroos refers in the notes at the end of the article to the ICDT model of Angehnr (article). I was not very enthusiastic about the way the NetOffer model deals with information and communication. Therefore, I had the idea of combining the Netoffer model and the ICDT model into the Electronic Offering model, as presented below. I hope to soon write more about it and evaluate the model with a case study.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Innomediaries: The capabilities of intermediaries in (open) innovation networks

The intermediary is sometimes popping up in discussions on new business models and innovation strategies, such as 'open innovation' and 'connect & develop.' This already resulted in the term 'innomediaries' (Google search). Why would this be? The middleman has been proclaimed death many times, in particular with the increasing possibilities of ICT.

An intermediary brings together actors and facilitates demand and supply activities for the exchange of products (goods, services, ideas), information, and money. The term ‘intermediate’ refers to a position: being or occurring at the middle place, stage, or degree or between extremes (Merriam-Webster).

Being in the middle emphasizes that intermediaries can occupy a special position in the business network and build capabilities based upon:

1. Connectivity: Intermediaries can connect many customers with many suppliers. Therefore the intermediary can provide services that individual customers and suppliers cannot offer and gain efficiencies via the reduction of necessary contacts between customers and suppliers.

2. Specialization: Intermediaries can specialize in exchange activities and supportive production functions; an exchange is a task in itself.

3. Neutrality: Intermediaries can act as a neutral party, a buffer between the interests of customers and suppliers.

What are your ideas on this? Are intermediaries a dying breed? Or will they stay but do they have to adapt their role? Or will nothing change at all?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The relevance of business models: An integrative approach

What is the added value of working with business models for practitioners? I think three of the major benefits are the helicopter view, the structured way of working, and the integrative approach.

I will discuss the
integrative approach in this post. I work on mobile services in the health care using the STOF business blueprint method and model (Service, Technology, Organization, and Finance). In a 'valorization' project we try to identify what it takes to bring a specific (technological) prototype application to the market. In one of the business model design sessions a health professional was surprised to find out from an application engineer that the software of the prototype could not be one-on-one transferred into a market-ready product.

What is integrative about this? Firstly, the business model design sessions require the presence of persons from the business side and from the technology side, and stimulate a constructive discussion about their mutual dependence. Secondly, once it was clear that the software could not be
transferred, it was possible to think of the consequences for the organization and finance in a structured way. What capabilities are required to build a market-ready product and which organization has these capabilities? What investment does it require to build a market-ready product and what does that mean for the time-to-market?

What are your ideas and experiences on this? Do you see similar benefits? Are these really benefits of designing business models?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Design-Oriented Enterprise (DOE)

Coming from an IT background I perceived an increase in the scope of design activities. Starting with the design of information systems, the scope expanded to the design of business processes. Thereafter, the scope expanded even further to the design of the business itself, referred to as the business model.

I would like to raise the question how an organization could (or should) maximize the opportunities offered by a design approach. For this I came up with the concept of the ‘design-oriented enterprise.’ As I see it for now, the objective of a design-oriented enterprise should be to increase their performance by design motivation and ability (see also figure below). (I think the ‘design-oriented enterprise’ is not used yet in this way, see also the Google search.)

For design motivation it is possible to differentiate between ‘ambition levels.’ I based the following ambition levels partially on Investing in Design by Rosa Wu and Jess McMullin (adapted it to an IS context):

  • No Conscious design effort: Design has no perceived value for the organization.
  • Design is the gateway to automation: Design supports the automation of business activities.
  • Design makes things better: Design makes things work better than they did before.
  • Design as problem solving: Design finds new opportunities by solving existing problems.
  • Design as problem framing: Design redefines the challenges facing the organization.
For design ability it is possible to differentiate between a number of maturity levels, as is done in the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and CMM Integration (CMMI).

These are just some early ideas and these ideas would benefit from your comments!!!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Designing for Acceptance: Exchange Design for Electronic Intermediaries

My PhD research was on designing electronic intermediaries. I published my PhD thesis in November 2006. Below is a short summary.

Electronic business has brought many success stories as well as failures. Intermediaries are a particularly interesting application domain: on the one hand, they are given opportunities by electronic business to reinvent their value logic, while on the other they are threatened by opportunities for customers and suppliers to deploy electronic business to do business directly. Designing for Acceptance addresses the acceptance of electronic intermediaries by studying the design of the exchange. For example, should a web catalogue provide price information and should it consider an extension with transaction functionality?

Developing the right exchange design is a complex undertaking because of the many design options and the interests of multiple actors that need to be taken into account. Four cases were studied: Tapestria (interior fabrics), SeaQuipment (maritime products), Meetingpoint (insurances) and Voogd & Voogd (insurances). The results are an exchange design model and patterns that are derived from numerous case lessons and are supported by insights from theories on electronic intermediaries, acceptance and business design.

The exchange design model offers a systematic insight into generic exchange design themes that are relevant to the interests of customers, intermediary and suppliers. Exchange design patterns discuss specific trade-offs with respect to one or more themes. This study contributes to current knowledge by providing support for balancing interests in exchange design beyond simple prescriptions like ‘creating win-win situations.’ The exchange design themes and patterns are convenient instruments that offer constructive support for developing a vague electronic business idea into a concrete service concept.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Book reading: Benefits Management

Currently I am reading 'Benefits Management: Delivering Value from IS & IT Investments' by Ward and Daniel. They argue that a successful investment in IT requires a process for organizing and managing the actual realization of potential benefits. They draw specific attention to the changes in organizational processes and relationships and the roles and working practices of individuals and teams inside, and in some cases, outside the organization.

Next to providing an analysis of the benefits problem and an understanding of how to tackle it, they also provide a benefit management approach with support for the activities. The benefits dependency network has a central role in this approach (search for examples). An important guideline is, for example, to check whether the people responsible for the changes are also the onces who receive the benefits.

In my opinion benefits management is not only relevant for IT projects of practitioners, but also for IT research projects. I will write a review when I finished reading the book.