Beta Version Available! Computer Aided Business Model Design

Together with my former PhD supervisor Professor Yves Pigneur (and now my co-author), I have long advocated the utility of some kind of computer aided business model design tool (see here) – in fact my PhD dissertation aimed at building the foundations for that. Now this vision is starting to become reality. One of Yves’ new PhD students has built such a tool on the basis of Yves’ and my conceptual groundwork.

Boris Fritscher, a brilliant student who has just started working on his PhD, has conceived a Web-based tool to sketch and edit business models. Now this Business Model Editor called BM|DESIGN|ER is open to the public in the form of a beta version (I talked about Boris' work previously here and here). The more you test it and play around with it the better it will get. All you need to give in return is substantive feedback! I hope to see the tool on TechCrunch soon - I think it is a substantial basic tool for start-ups to play around with their business model.

Check it out the BM|DESIGN|ER here:
http://bmdesigner.com/

Personally, I believe we can make a lot of progress in the field of computer supported business design. While I am a great fan of working on whiteboards and/or with post-it™ notes, I also think computer-aided systems have an essential complementary role to play (and one day we will be able to conveniently brainstorm with virtual post-it notes).

Some of the main advantages of computer aided business model design over paper are:

  • Highlighting of linkages between business model building blocks throughout a model – e.g. what resources, activities and partners do we need to serve a specific customer segment.
  • Navigating between layers of a business model – e.g. this allows us to look at the different interlinked parts/layers of Amazon.com’s business model, which has expanded from online retailing towards providing Web infrastructure to other companies.
  • Automatically generating financial spreadsheets based on visually conceived business model prototypes.
  • Advanced manipulation of business models, such as storing, merging, comparing, versioning and sharing models.

Of course this all sounds a bit futuristic and it remains to be seen how business people pick up on this. But look at the history of information systems in business and you might be able to trace a trajectory: We started out with modeling accounting information and now have sophisticated software-based accounting systems. Then we started modeling order and warehouse management. That brought us sophisticated enterprise resource planning systems. We moved on and started modeling and redesigning processes. Now we have quite advanced Business Process Management Systems. So what is the next bastion? Business Models: New ways of creating value ;-)

Boris, bravo for providing a first advance in this direction! Let’s have fun playing around with and advancing the BMeditor!!! Boris put all the examples of our upcoming book, Business Model Generation, into the system. That will give you something to start with…