I n the April BLOG article, I already wrote about the long-term trends and the opportunities to increase the resilience of your company. In the current time of crisis, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: DIGITAL is the new NORMAL!
Before the CORONA crisis, it was often consultants, IT specialists or scientists who demanded “Digital as default” (digital as standard setting). Nowadays, almost every company is aware of how the crisis is inexorably accelerating digital change. The experience of distributed working in virtual space, the tearing off of global supply chains and the expectation of completely new needs by customers after the crisis can be felt in real terms by the companies!
Surely you experience this every day in your environment, the discussion about what the world will look like after the crisis is in full swing. However, we can safely say that it will be a different world and society to which we as entrepreneurs will have to adapt. For companies with their current business models, this is both a risk and an opportunity. Risk because there is less planning security. But above all, it is an opportunity because it creates new possibilities to shape the future with their own ideas, new business models and digital offerings.
For the period after the crisis, I see four areas that companies that want to emerge as winners from this caesura will have to address:
All these issues are closely related, but it is not necessary – and for many it is not even possible – to deal with all of them at the same time. Over the next four months I will therefore take a closer look at the individual topics and try to show the opportunities for companies with very concrete examples. In doing so, I will draw on a large innovation database that we use from our cooperation partner TrendONE. The trends identified there can point out ways in which companies should move towards a successful future.
The good news for all companies is that there is currently extensive funding and start-up financing available to address these issues, in some cases up to 100%. Companies should take advantage of these opportunities NOW in order to prepare themselves optimally for the time after the crisis.
Business models are the transmission belt for the economy. They bridge the distance between producer/seller and customer. At the same time, they ensure that the producer has a basis for planning and does not overproduce according to the needs of his customers. The key question for a business model is what value can a company offer for which a customer is prepared to pay a certain price.
In the past, many business models have been developed that simply work. Even trading along trade routes has opened up the possibility of different business models, from transporters to providers of accommodation and catering along the routes. The essential value for the customer, however, is that a distance is bridged, i.e. a product was available at a completely different location than when it was produced.
In addition to the established business models, new business models are constantly being created, some of which swirl through entire industries and create completely new successful companies. A good example is Airbnb, the platform for arranging private accommodation. It is as easy as booking a hotel reservation, although Airbnb does not own or manage its own accommodation. This has put the hotel market under massive pressure, especially in conurbations.
The starting point for Airbnb’s considerations was the central question: what do their customers look for when they travel to a location? The core and most valuable asset for people is a place to sleep. Hotels make a lot of extra effort around it to pamper their customers, which they ultimately have to pay for. On the other hand, there are a lot of (private) sleeping places that regularly stand empty for various reasons. Airbnb has created a platform that brings together supply and demand, which was previously impossible or very difficult to achieve. Private room booking, as easy as a hotel, with a similar promise of quality.
Airbnb was able to derive the needs of its customers from various megatrends. These include, above all, the megatrend of individualization. Many people no longer want to stay in standard hotels that look the same all over the world. Individual tourism, for example, has been on the rise for many years. The provider “Lonely Planet” has even concentrated on this customer segment with its travel guides.
Another megatrend is connectivity, which means that we are all networked and take it for granted to communicate and connect with each other via the Internet. Private rentals via the network are no longer a problem, as it is possible to obtain transparent information about everything in advance.
Below the megatrends, there are other macro trends to which Airbnb’s business model pays off, the platform economy. Whenever it comes to bringing together suppliers and demanders, a platform plays the decisive role. In the past, this was traditionally the task of dealers, but today a platform can be completely organized in virtual space.
Digital technology also plays an important role. With the help of the Internet and thus the availability of worldwide offers, maximum transparency has been created in the market of accommodation services. In addition, the options for evaluation (trust) as well as the options for digital payment (security) make Airbnb’s mediation particularly attractive for users.
Finally, Airbnb has now succeeded in opening up entirely new markets, even outside the conurbations. These include rural areas in particular. Many offers have only become known via the platform in the first place, or many of today’s providers have only decided to offer a vacant room in the house as a holiday home because of the possibilities offered by Airbnb.
Why is this trend analysis important for your company and your business model? Quite simply, these trends are stable in the medium to long term. They give us an insight today into what will be tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. In this way, they give companies the opportunity to prepare their business model now for the needs of tomorrow’s customers.
Airbnb has clearly analysed the megatrends and found that the existing range of hotels cannot meet the needs of the future. On the one hand because the offer was not available (individualisation of rooms) or because the offers were not transparent at all until now (platform economy). The combination of customer needs with new digital technologies ultimately made it possible to build a billion dollar business.
So what do you as an entrepreneur learn from this example? The big advantage is that the earlier you look at future trends from your customer’s perspective, the sooner your company can benefit from them. You should be the first to succeed in identifying relevant megatrends for your company and to match tomorrow’s demand with the right supply. This always results in a new business model idea.
Airbnb has become a household name, even though there are now many other suppliers. As a platform operator, Airbnb has all the data of its customers and suppliers and can even create new offers, such as advertising that is specifically tailored to the interests of users.
Developing new business models requires some creativity, but above all a good understanding of what your customer of tomorrow really wants. That’s why I have four recommendations for you to make your company fit for the future:
Get to know the relevant mega and macro trends for your company and discuss together with your employees in which areas you have special competencies.
Learn from other companies, you do not have to reinvent everything. There are countless innovations, somewhere in the world, every day! If you use them as an impulse for your company, you will come up with some great new ideas.
Look at your existing business model, what is unique about your model and what is successful for the foreseeable future? Where do you see areas that are developing with difficulty, possibly intensified by the crisis?
Take advantage of the largest trend and innovation database and 100% support for your company. We would be pleased to offer you a non-binding presentation of our database and show you ways in which you as a company can benefit from it.
Use the current crisis situation as a chance, I am at your disposal with my team at any time, just write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.