As I look back upon 2017, the trend is clear. During the year I’ve conducted around 20 workshops (about 50 days) where I’ve used the Business Model Generation toolbox. The workshops have been conducted with more than 12 different companies, mostly midsized B2B-companies, but in very different industries – from chemistry to insurance. Despite their differing industries, I conclude that the similarities are greater than the differences. Most of them are struggling with understanding digital transformation – what does it mean for them as companies – and how do they move beyond focusing on digitalization as such, to understanding what they actually want to achieve – with their business models, value propositions and customer experiences? Viewing digital solutions as a means to an end – rather than the sole purpose.
Fat and happy or the knife to the throat – who has the greatest challenge?
Some of the companies are not fat and happy. They are actually already struggling with the consequences of digital disrupters changing their industries. They go to market with products that are becoming more and more commoditized, adding little extra value to earn the premium price they want to charge. Some of them are seeing thinner and thinner margins due to the price transparency of an ever more present e-commerce within B2B. Others are better off. They have a thriving business, they might operate in a conservative industry where neither customer nor competitor are digitally mature. Who is worse off? Which challenges are greater? Finding a solution when forced to it or realizing that you need to prepare for the future and find some sense of urgency when all is going well?
I believe the challenges are equally great – only timing matters. When forced we can be very creative, we are willing to take risks and the sense of urgency is a gathering force for all to focus on finding new solutions. There is no possibility to stand in the corner and mutter that ”this does not concern me”. When you are in the latter situation, I tend to congratulate my customers. They are wise enough to realize that their current business model will not last forever and at the same time they have the time to think things through, test and evaluate before implementing new solutions and business models. Their challenge is rather to gather the energy, focus and create the necessary insight and willingness to change – although not being forced to it for the time being.
Your customer is not always your end-user – to whom do you create value?
The most common denominator of all however, is the lack of end-user insights. Most of our customers go to market via partners, retailers, distributors or other channels. Very few actually sell directly to the end-user. It’s true, they do know a lot about their customer. But not about the end-user – the true customer. Introducing the concept of Jobs-To-Be-Done and the Value Proposition canvas is the greatest value I can bring to our customers right now. The realization and understanding of the jobs their end-users are trying to solve, the pains and thresholds connected with it and the gains – what the end-user really wants to achieve when successful – is the Holy Grail to being innovative and identifying new value propositions. Be it digital services connected to physical products, new features to underserved end-users opening up new market segments or simply improving customer experience by sharing content, knowledge and information already available within our organizations but not to our customers.
Stay tuned for a new blog post where I will describe the jobs-to-be-done concept and value proposition in more detail! Meanwhile have a look at this short introduction describing the Value Proposition Canvas.
I now look forward to 2018. We already have 5 workshops planned, most of them with new customers in new industries. It will be interesting to get the opportunity to get to know them better and I’m sure new ideas and solutions will arise!