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:

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’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…

Business Model Designer From Sticky Note To Screen Interaction

Last Friday I was part of the committee for a Masters Thesis defense on business model design at the HEC Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland. Boris Fritscher, whom I previously mentioned on this blog, defended his thesis "Business Model Designer From Sticky Note To Screen Interaction". For his dissertation Boris developed a web-based business model design tool under the guidance of Professor Yves Pigneur, my co-author for an upcoming book on business model innovation.

Boris did an outstanding job combining business relevance with software development. You can check out his presentation and thesis below or on his website. You can also look into a non-interactive demo of his business model design tool. It allows capturing, storing and designing business models (read about it in the dissertation). Boris is not yet opening up the tool to the public, though many readers of my blog have already asked me for access. If we show him how much we want/need this tool he will hopefully change his mind and allow some testers access to an alpha/beta version. Isn't it, Boris ;-) So post a comment to this blog if you think this is relevant!

Have a look at Boris' thesis. It is really interesting and I believe it points us to the future of business model innovation: one where paper based brainstorming is combined and complemented with the advantages of computer aided business model design.

And here the slides Boris presented during his thesis defense:

Book Chunk Project - prototype

Yves Pigneur's and my book on the topic of "Crafting Innovative Business Models" (working title) is only due in May 2009 (approx.). That is way too long to wait. Many people asked us for early access. Hence, I thought it could be a good idea to distribute the book content in separate chunks before.

The slides below outline the draft of this idea of giving interested people early access to our writing for 24.- $US (or maybe a little more). By subscribing to this so-called "book chunk project" you will get several things (suggest more...):

  • first & exclusive access to raw book content
  • influence authors
  • x installments of book chunks (in a non-linear order - as we write them)
  • 50% discount off the final book (approx.)
  • participate in exclusive book chunk webinars
  • access to templates
  • being part of the business model innovation community

I would be interested in your comments on this and if you would be willing to buy such an early and exclusive access. Do you think the pricing is too low? Any suggestion is welcome. In the meantime have a look at the slides that outline this idea that I would launch very soon if I feel an interest from your side:

Book Chunk Project - prototype
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: book project)

Business Model Innovation Book (book structure prototype)

The reflections on our book on business model innovation are advancing daily. Yves Pigneur, my co-author, and I have come up with a first rough prototype book structure. We will refine our thinking this Friday and we are, of course, curious to hear your feedback.

You can check out the structure in the slidecast below. It gives you an idea where we are heading, though this first draft structure only sketches out the rough outlines.

To listen to and visualize the slidecast, please hit the play button. All the rest is automatic.

I'm looking forward to your first feedbacks...

Draft Business Model Innovation Manual (beta version)

Yesterday I finished a draft for a simple business model innovation manual co-financed by La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia and DOTARS. In the spirit of open innovation I am sharing this "beta version" online to trigger your feedback.

Draft Business Model Manual (beta version): How to Describe and Improve your Business Model to Compete Better (pdf)

The manual shall help business people describe their business model step by step, assess its strengths and weaknesses in order to then improve it. I'm not yet happy with the document, but it's start. The final document will be posted here later.

Acknowledgments: A special thanks goes to Dr Vijaya Thyil and Professor Geoffrey Durden of La Trobe University, who enabled this manual. A particular thank you goes to Professor Yves Pigneur of HEC Business School in Switzerland who has been the driving force with whom I have developed the underlying business model concept.

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