The Business Model Innovators

Business Model Innovation in the Digital Economy: Characteristics, Strategies and Repercussions
by Dr. oec. Patrick Stähler


 auf Deutsch German

Welcome to Business Model, a website on innovations in business models. The English version is just a summary of the site that is mainly in German. Sorry! The site is the result of a Ph.D. thesis which was written in German. Due to the interest from non-German speakers in the German pages I decided to open a brief English section.

Business model innovation is a fresh approach how companies can find new ways to diffferentiate themselves from their competitors. Business model innovations are all about being different from your competitors. Business model innovations are not about being more efficient or doing more of what you have done before. With business model innovations you question the very basis of your business. Every part of todays business and its structure become a variable of the management. The existing value architectur, the value proposition or the revenue models are being questioned. A classical example of a business model innovator is Dell. Dell did not imitate the business model of IBM or Dell. It did not copy the business model, but create a new business model that did not rely on distribution partners. What looked at the beginning like a serious disadvantage (How do you want to reach as a start-up your customers whithout an existing distribution channel?), turned into a serious advantage with the advent of the Internet. The omission of distribution partners also helped to gain more information about the customer and its buying behavior. So the omission let to the now famous build-to-order production system of Dell.

Business model innovation are not relied on the use of new media. Entrepreneurs in every industry can use the concept. IKEA is such a business model innovator. It did not imitate the traditional furniture industry but created a new value architecture. IKEA transfered two value steps to the buyers of furniture. People have to transport the merchandise by themselves and have to assemble the furniture. These two activities were before IKEA part of the value architecture of the furniture reseller industry. What looks like a big disadvantage for customers, customers loved it since it changed completely the buying pattern. While before IKEA customers had to wait for 4 to 8 weeks for what they have bought, at IKEA you get instant satisfaction after the purchase (at least when your know how to assemble the furniture).

What is behind business models and business model innovation you find in the section of definitions. The section based on a discussion paper I have written for a seminar at the University of Lausanne. The site will be expanded over time, so I am very happy about any feedback. Just write me an email (

The content is the result of four years research I did at the Institute for Media and Communications Management at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. If you use parts of the website please cite it and also the original source which is Stähler, Patrick (2001) Geschäftsmodelle in der digitalen Ökonomie: Merkmale, Strategien und Auswirkungen, Josef Eul Verlag, Cologne-Lohmar. The second edition of the book is available at



10/6/2002 A new section in English has opened.

Bestellen Sie das Buch bei

The 2nd edition of the book (in German) Geschäftsmodelle in der digitalen Ökonomie can be bought at .


Mai 2008 © Patrick Stähler