Technology Enabled Business Model Innovation

Earlier this month, I joined an Innovation Roundtable event at Canary Wharf, looking at enterprise-level examples of innovation in larger businesses. Compared to the start-up orientated Meet Up event I attended last year, innovation is generally trickier in bigger organisations where the rate of change tends to be slower.

And therein lies the challenge. At the Roundtable event, participants saw presentations from Shell, Cambridge University, Bosch and Jaguar Land Rover. Each presentation covered some diverse themes, including enterprise mobility, 3D printing, the Internet Of Things, and digital transformation. In between, three workshop sessions took place to expand these themes and collect some collaborative thoughts via Roundtable’s clever app.

I’ve long been cool on 3D printing, but Tim Minshall from Cambridge University did a good job of detailing some better use cases than simply printed jewelry or paperweights. I particularly liked his argument about printing in remote, impractical locations, such as space; astronauts could print parts instead of having supplies sent up from earth, for example.

There was also a good opening piece by Laura Duffey from Shell, discussing how the lines between technology and business model innovation are being blurred. Laura talked about the disruption in different markets, such as Uber for instance in the taxi market, where an individual’s own time, driving ability and own transport can suddenly be commoditised thanks to technology. Now with the advancements in satellite navigation and smartphones, anyone can be a taxi driver – in theory at least.

We also heard about the advancements Bosch are making with the Internet of Things, and the pressure on Jaguar Land Rover to provide connectivity for owners in their vehicles. The car market has never been so exciting right now; with the growth in alternative fuels and EVs, we also have driverless vehicles, internet connectivity and even the ownership proposition potentially changing to a tiered rental model. Leon Hurst of JLR discussed how digital is opening up new opportunities to build relationships with their customers. In the past, a car dealer would wave goodbye to a customer and hope to see them at their next service. But the vehicle able to talk to the manufacturer, we can learn more how a vehicle is used and where it goes. How much would companies pay for that kind of data?

I think a stand out insight from the day for me was that your existing business model that you rely on today may be heavily disrupted or even defunct in just a few years’ time. What we consider as Intellectual Property could be part of the next digital economy. Look at Transport for London’s open data policy: although government run, they simply give away their data through APIs, and have made impressive operating savings, thanks to its transport users making better choices through data-driven apps as to how they use the network.

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