To do business model innovation well you have to be able to quickly look at competitors, typically their websites, and extract the key information about their business model. Then put it on paper and try and understand it.
How do you do this?
Step one is to go to their website. Case studies are great at telling you who their customers are and the value proposition.
Summarise or use their exact words.
Looking at their contact page you can normally tell the level and type of customer relationship. For marketing and distribution channels look to see if they sell online, have affiliates, have shops and their different social media channels.
Initially just grab stuff don’t over analyse. Your first thoughts are good enough – add it to the business model canvas.
It’s normally fairly clear how they generate revenue. If in doubt just do a google search for the company name and business model or revenue model.
The production side is more difficult. Normally the about page and the history page give good insights on what they consider their key resources to be. If in doubt head into the financial statements, for a listed company, and see what is on the balance sheet.
Then for the key activities head over to LinkedIn and browse through the job titles of people who work for the company. Go to Glassdoor and see the job roles giving reviews. Together these data sources give you a sense of what employees do and how important their contribution is to the company.
Where there are big gaps, a consumer electronics company with no production engineers on staff is probably outsourcing, it’s normally safe to say that they have a key partner delivering the activity or key resource.
The best way to do this is to take your management team and do it independently for each competitor. Then come back and discuss each competitor in turn harmonising what you have each found.
Depending on how much depth you want to go into it takes about an hour to do an initial business model the first few times. You can’t get it wrong. Just put down what you see on paper using their own words. The value comes as you start asking questions about why and how they do it in that way.
The more of these that you do the better that you get, and there is the wonderful benefit of getting many serendipitous insights about how to improve your own business model along the way.
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Denis Oakley & Co designs disruptive business models for companies of all sizes
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Above all keep questioning, keep challenging assumptions!