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Business model

1 History

A business model is an abstract representation of an

organization, be it conceptual, textual, and/or graphical, of all core interrelated architectural, co-operational,
and nancial arrangements designed and developed by
an organization presently and in the future, as well as all
core products and/or services the organization oers, or
will oer, based on these arrangements that are needed
to achieve its strategic goals and objectives.[1] [2] This
denition by Al-Debei and Avison (2008) indicates that
value proposition, value architecture (the organizational
infrastructure and technological architecture that allows
the movement of products, services, and information),
value nance (modeling information related to total cost
of ownership, pricing methods, and revenue structure),
and value network articulate the primary constructs or dimensions of business models.[3]

Over the years, business models have become much more

sophisticated. The bait and hook business model (also
referred to as the "razor and blades business model" or
the tied products business model) was introduced in the
early 20th century. This involves oering a basic product
at a very low cost, often at a loss (the bait), then charging compensatory recurring amounts for rells or associated products or services (the hook). Examples include:
razor (bait) and blades (hook); cell phones (bait) and air
time (hook); computer printers (bait) and ink cartridge
rells (hook); and cameras (bait) and prints (hook). A
variant of this model is Adobe, a software developer that
gives away its document reader free of charge but charges
several hundred dollars for its document writer.

A business model thus describes the rationale of how an

organization creates, delivers, and captures value,[4] in
economic, social, cultural or other contexts. The process
of business model construction is part of business strategy.

In the 1950s, new business models came from

McDonalds Restaurants and Toyota. In the 1960s,
the innovators were Wal-Mart and Hypermarkets. The
1970s saw new business models from FedEx and Toys
R Us; the 1980s from Blockbuster, Home Depot, Intel,
In theory and practice, the term business model is used and Dell Computer; the 1990s from Southwest Airlines,
for a broad range of informal and formal descriptions to Netix, eBay, Amazon.com, and Starbucks.
represent core aspects of a business, including purpose, Today, the type of business models might depend on how
business process, target customers, oerings, strategies, technology is used. For example, entrepreneurs on the
infrastructure, organizational structures, sourcing, trad- internet have also created entirely new models that deing practices, and operational processes and policies in- pend entirely on existing or emergent technology. Using
cluding culture. The literature has provided very diverse technology, businesses can reach a large number of cusinterpretations and denitions of a business model. A tomers with minimal costs. In addition, the rise of outsystematic review and analysis of manager responses to sourcing and globalization has meant that business moda survey denes business models as the design of organi- els must also account for strategic sourcing, complex supzational structures to enact a commercial opportunity.[5] ply chains and moves to collaborative, relational contractFurther extensions to this design logic emphasize the use ing structures.[8]
of narrative or coherence in business model descriptions
as mechanisms by which entrepreneurs create extraordinarily successful growth rms.[6]

2 Theoretical and empirical insights to business models

Business models are used to describe and classify businesses, especially in an entrepreneurial setting, but they
are also used by managers inside companies to explore possibilities for future development. Well-known
business models can operate as recipes for creative
managers.[7] Business models are also referred to in some
instances within the context of accounting for purposes of
public reporting.

2.1 Design logic and narrative coherence

Design logic views the business model as an outcome of
creating new organizational structures or changing existing structures to pursue a new opportunity. Gerry George
and Adam Bock (2011) conducted a comprehensive literature review and surveyed managers to understand how
they perceived the components of a business model. In
that analysis these authors show that there is a design
logic behind how entrepreneurs and managers perceive

and explain their business model. In further extensions to

the design logic, George and Bock (2012) use case studies and the IBM survey data on business models in large
companies, to describe how CEOs and entrepreneurs create narratives or stories in a coherent manner to move the
business from one opportunity to another. They also show
that when the narrative is incoherent or the components
of the story are misaligned, that these businesses tend to
fail. They recommend ways in which the entrepreneur or
CEO can create strong narratives for change.


Complementarities of business models

between partnering rms

Studying collaborative research and the accessing of external sources of technology, Hummel et al. (2010)
found that in deciding on business partners, it is important to make sure that both parties business models are
complementary.[9] For example, they found that it was
important to identify the value drivers of potential partners by analyzing their business models, and that it is benecial to nd partner rms that understand key aspects of
our own rms business model.[10]
The University of Tennessee conducted research into
highly collaborative business relationships. Researchers
codied their research into a sourcing business model
known as Vested (also referred to as Vested Outsourcing). Vested is a hybrid sourcing business model in which
buyers and suppliers in an outsourcing or business relationship focus on shared values and goals to create an arrangement that is highly collaborative and mutually benecial to each.[11]

Categorization of business models

From about 2012, some research and experimentation has theorized about a so-called liquid business


V4 BM framework


the nature of targeted market segment(s) along with

their preferences.
Value Architecture: portrays the concept as a
holistic structural design of an organization, including its technological architecture, organizational infrastructure, and their congurations.
Value Network: depicts the cross-company or
inter-organization perspective towards the concept
and has gained much attention in the BM literature.
Value Finance: depicts information related to costing, pricing methods, and revenue structure

3.2 Shift from pipes to platforms

Sangeet Paul Choudary (2013) distinguishes between two
broad families of business models in an article in Wired
magazine.[14] Choudary contrasts pipes (linear business
models) with platforms (networked business models). In
the case of pipes, rms create good and services, push
them out and sell them to customers. Value is produced
upstream and consumed downstream. There is a linear
ow, much like water owing through a pipe. Unlike
pipes, platforms do not just create and push stu out.
They allow users to create and consume value.
In an op-ed on MarketWatch,[15] Choudary, Van Alstyne
and Parker further explain how business models are moving from pipes to platforms, leading to disruption of entire industries.

3.3 Platform business models

In an earlier article [16] Choudary elaborates on the three
elements of a successful platform business model. The
Toolbox creates connection by making it easy for others
to plug into the platform. This infrastructure enables interactions between participants. The Magnet creates pull
that attracts participants to the platform. For transaction
platforms, both producers and consumers must be present
to achieve critical mass. The Matchmaker fosters the ow
of value by making connections between producers and
consumers. Data is at the heart of successful matchmaking, and distinguishes platforms from other business models.

Al-Debei and Avison (2010) V4 BM Framework - four

main dimensions encapsulating sixteen elements: Value
Proposition, Value Architecture, Value Network, and
Chen (2009) stated that the business model has to
Value Finance[3]
take into account the capabilities of Web 2.0, such as
collective intelligence, network eects, user-generated
Value Proposition: This dimension implies that content, and the possibility of self-improving systems.
a BM should include a description of the prod- He suggested that the service industry such as the airline,
ucts/services a digital organization oers, or will of- trac, transportation, hotel, restaurant, information and
fer, along with their related information. Further- communications technology and online gaming industries
more, the BM needs also to describe the value el- will be able to benet in adopting business models that
ements incorporated within the oering, as well as take into account the characteristics of Web 2.0. He also

emphasized that Business Model 2.0 has to take into account not just the technology eect of Web 2.0 but also
the networking eect. He gave the example of the success story of Amazon in making huge revenues each year
by developing an open platform that supports a community of companies that re-use Amazons on-demand commerce services.[17]

5 Business model design

Business model design refers to the activity of designing
a companys business model. It is part of the business
development and business strategy process and involves
design methods.

5.1 Denitions of business model


Malone et al.[18] found that some business models, as dened by them, indeed performed better than others in a
dataset consisting of the largest U.S. rms, in the period
1998 through 2002, while they did not prove whether the
existence of a business model mattered.
In the context of the Software-Cluster, which is funded by
the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research,
a business model wizard for software companies has been
developed. It supports the design and analysis of software
business models. The tools underlying concept and data
were published in various scientic publications.

Al-Debei and Avison (2010) dene a business model

as an abstract representation of an organization. This
may be conceptual, textual, and/or graphical, of all core
interrelated architectural, co-operational, and nancial
arrangements designed and developed by an organization presently and in the future, as well all core products and/or services the organization oers, or will oer,
based on these arrangements that are needed to achieve its
strategic goals and objectives.[1] This denition indicates
that value proposition, value architecture, value nance,
and value network articulate the primary constructs or dimensions of business models.[3]
5.1.1 Economic consideration

Al-Debei and Avison (2010) consider value nance as

one of the main dimensions of BM which depicts information related to costing, pricing methods, and revenue
structure. Stewart and Zhao (2000) dened the business
The concept of a business model has been incorporated model as a statement of how a rm will make money and
into certain accounting standards. For example, the sustain its prot stream over time. [35]
International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) utilizes an entitys business model for managing the nancial assets as a criterion for determining whether such 5.1.2 Component consideration
assets should be measured at amortized cost or at fair
value in its nancial instruments accounting standard, Osterwalder et al. (2005) consider the Business Model
IFRS 9.[19][20][21][22] In their 2013 proposal for account- as the blueprint of how a company does business.[36] Slying for nancial instruments, the Financial Accounting wotzky (1996) regards the business model as the totality
Standards Board also proposed a similar use of busi- of how a company selects its customers, denes and difness model for classifying nancial instruments.[23] The ferentiates it oerings, denes the tasks it will perform
concept of business model has also been introduced into itself and those it will outsource, congures its resources,
the accounting of deferred taxes under International Fi- goes to market, creates utility for customers and captures
nancial Reporting Standards with 2010 amendments to prots. [37]
IAS 12 addressing deferred taxes related to investment
5.1.3 Strategic outcome
Both IASB and FASB have proposed using the concept of business model in the context of reporting a Mayo and Brown (1999) considered the business model
lessors lease income and lease expense within their joint as the design of key interdependent systems that create
project on accounting for leases.[27][28][29][30][31] The con- and sustain a competitive business. [38]
cept has also been proposed as an approach for determining the measurement and classication when accounting
for insurance contracts.[32][33] As a result of the increasing 6 Denitions of business model deprominence the concept of business model has received
sign or development
in the context of nancial reporting, the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG), which advises
the European Union on endorsement of nancial report- Zott and Amit (2009) consider business model design
ing standards, commenced a project on the Role of the from the perspectives of design themes and design content. Design themes refer to the systems dominant value
Business Model in Financial Reporting in 2011.[34]


creation drivers and design content examines in greater

detail the activities to be performed, the linking and
sequencing of the activities and who will perform the


Business model design is distinct from business modeling. The former refers to dening the business logic of a
company at the strategic level, whereas the latter refers to
business process design at the operational level.

A business model design template can facilitate the proDesign themes emphasis of business cess of designing and describing a companys business


Environment-Strategy-Structure-Operations (ESSO) Business Model Development

(copyright: Dr. Michael Lim 2010)


PESTEL and Opportunities and Threats

How do they affect us and our Customers,
Competitors & Suppliers


Competitive priorities

Key activities
Key resources
Key competitors
Key suppliers and partners
Key customers- segment, channel
(e.g. direct, franchise)
Cost and Revenue


Daas et al. (2012) developed a decision support system

(DSS) for business model design. In their study a decision
support system (DSS) is developed to help SaaS in this
process, based on a design approach consisting of a design
process that is guided by various design methods.[41]

Market opportunities
Competitive advantage
Resource based view
Market access e.g. government contracts
Customer base broad or narrow/ focused/ niche

Knowledge Management

7 Examples of business models

Knowledge in peoples heads

Documents, Databases and Resource Planning Programs
Strategy, Structure and Operations

Community (flat)
Design Copyright: Dr. Michael Lim (2010)
Lim, M. 2010. Environment-Strategy-Structure-Operations (ESSO) Business Model. Knowledge Management Module at Bangor University, Wales. Available at:
(last accessed 02/12/10)

Environment-Strategy-Structure-Operations (ESSO) Business

Model Development

In the early history of business models it was very typical to dene business model types such as bricks-andmortar or e-broker. However, these types usually describe only one aspect of the business (most often the revenue model). Therefore, more recent literature on business models concentrate on describing a business model
as a whole, instead of only the most visible aspects.

The following examples provide an overview for various

Developing a Framework for Business Model Devel- business model types that have been in discussion since
opment with an emphasis on Design Themes, Lim the invention of term business model:
(2010) proposed the Environment-Strategy-StructureOperations (ESSO) Business Model Development which
Bricks and clicks business model
takes into consideration the alignment of the organizations strategy with the organizations structure, operaBusiness model by which a company integrates
tions, and the environmental factors in achieving competboth oine (bricks) and online (clicks) presitive advantage in varying combination of cost, quality,
ences. One example of the bricks-and-clicks
time, exibility, innovation and aective.[40]
model is when a chain of stores allows the user


Design content emphasis of business

model design

Business model design includes the modeling and description of a companys:

value propositions
target customer segments
distribution channels
customer relationships
value congurations
core capabilities
partner network
cost structure
revenue model

to order products online, but lets them pick up

their order at a local store.
Collective business models
Business system, organization or association
typically composed of relatively large numbers
of businesses, tradespersons or professionals in
the same or related elds of endeavor, which
pools resources, shares information or provides
other benets for their members. For example, a science park or high-tech campus provides shared resources (e.g. cleanrooms and
other lab facilities) to the rms located on its
premises, and in addition seeks to create an
innovation community among these rms and
their employees.[42]
Cutting out the middleman model
The removal of intermediaries in a supply
chain: cutting out the middleman. Instead of

going through traditional distribution channels,
which had some type of intermediate (such as a
distributor, wholesaler, broker, or agent), companies may now deal with every customer directly, for example via the Internet.
Direct sales model
Direct selling is marketing and selling products
to consumers directly, away from a xed retail location. Sales are typically made through
party plan, one-to-one demonstrations, and
other personal contact arrangements. A text
book denition is: The direct personal presentation, demonstration, and sale of products and services to consumers, usually in their
homes or at their jobs.[43]
Distribution business models, various
Value-added reseller model
Value Added Reseller is a model where a business makes something which is resold by other
businesses but with modications which add
value to the original product or service. These
modications or additions are mostly industry
specic in nature and are essential for the distribution. Businesses going for a VAR model
have to develop a VAR network. It is one of
the latest collaborative business models which
can help in faster development cycles and is
adopted by many Technology companies especially software.
Fee in, free out
Business model which works by charging the
rst client a fee for a service, while oering that
service free of charge to subsequent clients.
Franchising is the practice of using another
rms successful business model. For the franchisor, the franchise is an alternative to building 'chain stores to distribute goods and avoid
investment and liability over a chain. The
franchisors success is the success of the franchisees. The franchisee is said to have a greater
incentive than a direct employee because he or
she has a direct stake in the business.
Sourcing business model

needs to work with another party to be successful. It is the combination of two concepts:
the contractual relationship framework a company uses with its supplier (transactional, relational, investment based), and the economic
model used (transactional, output or outcomebased).
Freemium business model
Business model that works by oering basic
Web services, or a basic downloadable digital
product, for free, while charging a premium for
advanced or special features.[44]
Pay what you can (PWYC) is a non-prot or forprot business model which does not depend on set
prices for its goods, but instead asks customers to
pay what they feel the product or service is worth
to them.[45][46][47] It is often used as a promotional
tactic,[48] but can also be the regular method of doing business. It is a variation on the gift economy and cross-subsidization, in that it depends on
reciprocity and trust to succeed.
"Pay what you want" (PWYW) is sometimes used synonymously, but pay what you can is often more oriented
to charity or socially oriented uses, based more on ability
to pay, while pay what you want is often more broadly
oriented to perceived value in combination with willingness and ability to pay.
Other examples of business models are:
Auction business model
All-in-one business model
Chemical Leasing
Low-cost carrier business model
Loyalty business models
Monopolistic business model
Multi-level marketing business model
Network eects business model
Online auction business model
Online content business model
Online media cooperative
Premium business model
Professional open-source model
Pyramid scheme business model
Razor and blades business model

A Sourcing Business Model is a type of business model that is applied specically to business relationships where more than one party

Servitization of products business model

Subscription business model


Business model frameworks

Technology centric communities have dened frameworks for business modeling. These frameworks attempt to dene a rigorous approach to dening business
value streams. It is not clear, however, to what extent such
frameworks are actually important for business planning.
Business model frameworks represent the core aspect of
any company; they involve the totality of how a company selects its customers denes and dierentiates its
oerings, denes the tasks it will perform itself and those
it will outsource, congures its resource, goes to market, creates utility for customers, and captures prots.[49]
A business framework involves internal factors (market
analysis; products/services promotion; development of
trust; social inuence and knowledge sharing) and external factors (competitors and technological aspects).[50] A
state of the art review on business model frameworks can
be found in Krumeich et al. (2012).[51] In the following
some frameworks are introduced.
Bm2 - Business Model Body Of Knowledge
Body Of Knowledge (BOK) for Business Models. Developed by Stephane Rogeau (2015) [52]

Although Webvan failed in its goal of disintermediating the North

American supermarket industry, several supermarket chains (like
Safeway Inc.) have launched their own delivery services to target
the niche market to which Webvan catered.

Developed by A. Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur,

Alan Smith, and 470 practitioners from 45
countries, the business model canvas [4][53] is
one of the most used frameworks for describing the elements of business models.

[[V<sup>4</sup> Business Model Framework]]

Developed by Al-Debei and Avison (2010)
Business reference model
Business reference model is a reference model,
concentrating on the architectural aspects of
the core business of an enterprise, service organization or government agency.
Component business model
Technique developed by IBM to model and analyze an enterprise. It is a logical representation or map of business components or building blocks and can be depicted on a single
page. It can be used to analyze the alignment of
enterprise strategy with the organizations capabilities and investments, identify redundant
or overlapping business capabilities, etc.
Industrialization of services business model
Business model used in strategic management
and services marketing that treats service provision as an industrial process, subject to industrial optimization procedures
Business Model Canvas

9 Related concepts
The process of business model design is part of business
strategy. Business model design and innovation refer to
the way a rm (or a network of rms) denes its business
logic at the strategic level.
In contrast, rms implement their business model at the
operational level, through their business operations. This
refers to their process-level activities, capabilities, functions and infrastructure (for example, their business processes and business process modeling), their organisational structures (e.g. organigrams, workows, human
resources) and systems (e.g. information technology architecture, production lines).
Consequently, an operationally viable and feasible business model requires lateral alignment with the underlining
business operations.[54]
The brand is a consequence of the business model and
has a symbiotic relationship with it, because the business
model determines the brand promise, and the brand equity becomes a feature of the model. Managing this is a
task of integrated marketing.
The standard terminology and examples of business models do not apply to most nonprot organizations, since
their sources of income are generally not the same as the
beneciaries. The term funding model is generally used


See also

Business plan
Business process modeling
Business reference model
Business rule
Competitive advantage
Core competency
Growth platforms
Market forms
Marketing plan
Strategic management
Strategy Markup Language
Strategic planning
Strategy dynamics
Value migration
The Design of Business
Enterprise Architecture
Business Model Canvas
Component business model



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[52] A Complete Theory of Business Models

[53] The Business Model Ontology - A Proposition In A Design
Science Approach
[54] "Solaimani, S. 2014. The alignment of Business Model
and Business Operations within Networked Enterprise
Environments. PhD Dissertation, Delft University of
Technology, The Netherlands."
[55] William Foster, Peter Kim, Barbara Christiansen. Ten
Nonprot Funding Models, Stanford Social Innovation
Review. 2009-03-05.


Further reading

A. Afuah and C. Tucci, Internet Business Models and

Strategies, Boston, McGraw Hill, 2003.
T. Burkhart, J. Krumeich, D. Werth, and P. Loos,
Analyzing the Business Model Concept A Comprehensive Classication of Literature, Proceedings
of the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS 2011). Paper 12. http://aisel.aisnet.org/
H. Chesbrough and R. S. Rosenbloom, The Role of
the Business Model in capturing value from Innovation: Evidence from XEROX Corporations Technology Spino Companies., Boston, Massachusetts,
Harvard Business School, 2002.
Dick Costolo, Business Models,
Marc Fetscherin and Gerhard Knolmayer, Focus
Theme Articles: Business Models for Content Delivery: An Empirical Analysis of the Newspaper and
Magazine Industry, International Journal on Media
Management, Volume 6, Issue 1 & 2 September
2004, pages 4 11, September 2004.
George, G., Bock, AJ. Models of opportunity: How
entrepreneurs design rms to achieve the unexpected.
Cambridge University Press, 2012, ISBN 978-0521-17084-0.
J. Gordijn, Value-based Requirements Engineering
- Exploring Innovative e-Commerce Ideas, Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit, 2002.
G. Hamel, Leading the revolution., Boston, Harvard
Business School Press, 2000.
J. Linder and S. Cantrell, Changing Business Models: Surveying the Landscape, Accenture Institute
for Strategic Change, 2000.
Lindgren, P. and Jrgensen,R., M.-S. Li, Y. Taran,
K. F. Saghaug, Towards a new generation of business model innovation model, presented at the 12th
International CINet Conference: Practicing innovation in times of discontinuity, Aarhus, Denmark, 1013 September 2011

Long Range Planning, vol 43 April 2010, Special

Issue on Business Models, includes 19 pieces by leading scholars on the nature of business models
S. Muegge. Business Model Discovery by Technology Entrepreneurs. Technology Innovation Management Review, April 2012, pp. 516.
S. Muegge, C. Haw, and Sir T. Matthews, Business
Models for Entrepreneurs and Startups, Best of TIM
Review, Book 2, Talent First Network, 2013.
Alex Osterwalder et al. Business Model Generation,
Co-authored with Yves Pigneur, Alan Smith, and
470 practitioners from 45 countries, self-published,
O. Peterovic and C. Kittl et al., Developing Business
Models for eBusiness., International Conference on
Electronic Commerce 2001, 2001.
Alt, Rainer; Zimmermann, Hans-Dieter: Introduction to Special Section Business Models. In:
Electronic Markets Anniversary Edition, Vol. 11
(2001), No. 1. link
Santiago Restrepo Barrera, Business model
tool, Business life model, Colombia 2012,
business-life-model/c1o75 (Spanish)
Paul Timmers. Business Models for Electronic Markets, Electronic Markets, Vol 8 (1998) No 2, pp. 3
Peter Weill and M. R. Vitale, Place to space: Migrating to eBusiness Models., Boston,Harvard Business
School Press, 2001.
C. Zott, R. Amit, & L.Massa. 'The Business Model:
Theoretical Roots, Recent Developments, and Future Research', WP-862, IESE, June, 2010 - revised
September 2010 (PDF)

13 External links
Sustaining Digital Resources: An on-the-ground
view of projects today, Ithaka, November 2009.
Overview of the models being deployed and analysis
on the eects of income generation and cost management.





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