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Business Model Innovation in the Digital Age

Program Overview

Companies today — no matter their size, history, or industry — are constantly looking over their shoulder. Facing hyper-competition and increasing demands for growth, they see innovation as their best hope, typically focusing on new products, services, and technologies. But the cost of those innovations is significant, in terms of money, time, and risk. What these companies are missing is a systematic framework for creating and implementing profit-generating ideas that leverage existing products, markets, and infrastructure.

That opportunity can be seized by innovating your business model. Less risky and less costly than other forms of innovation, it can also add powerful competitive advantages. Success, though, requires a structured process that eliminates guesswork and subjectivity and can be duplicated across all areas of the organization. Business Model Innovation in the Digital Age enables business leaders to learn and adopt this process — and uncover potential innovations that range from simple but highly effective adjustments to industry-disrupting changes that are difficult or even impossible to copy.

Business Model Innovation in the Digital Age - Serguei Netessine

In Business Model Innovation, participants will discover new ways to dramatically improve profitability and productivity within their organization, says Academic Director Serguei Netessine.

Program Experience

Highlights and Key Outcomes

In Business Model Innovation in the Digital Age, you will:

  • Uncover within your organization currently unidentified ways to dramatically improve profitability and productivity
  • Improve your ability to get organizational buy-in and execute on new business models
  • Conduct an audit of your current business model and generate ideas for innovations
  • Learn a systematic framework for evaluating, experimenting with, and prototyping your ideas
  • Develop defense mechanisms beyond intellectual property protection
  • Master a framework for driving and managing innovative change in your firm

Experience & Impact

A Systematic Framework: Discover a structured process that eliminates guesswork when designing a business model.

Most organizations systematically and rigorously maintain and monitor key metrics such as quarterly financial statements, productivity levels, and market position. But they rarely evaluate their business models as thoroughly, leaving the opportunity to modify and even transform these models untapped. Business Model Innovation in the Digital Age helps participants unlock this potential by developing a process for innovation that can be managed and turned into a driver of growth.

Unlike innovation that involves the creation of new products, services, or technologies, this brand of business model innovation can come from anywhere in the company. It requires fewer resources and less time to implement, and can result in innovations that are far more profitable and transformative than product- or technology-driven ones.

Embrace Failure: Professor Serguei Netessine says failure is part of the process when innovating a business model.

Business Model Innovation in the Digital Age provides a systematic framework that relies on practical management rather than startup agility or luck. You will begin applying this framework to your own business during the program, conducting an audit of your current models and identifying areas for potential innovations. You will also learn a process for experimentation that addresses weaknesses in proposed business models and experiment with those models to quantify their value and viability. Working in small groups, you will apply class learnings to a real company.

Because the critical last step in the process is implementation, you will be immersed in a half-day simulation on change leadership, strengthening your ability to get buy-in and drive change in your organization. You and your team will act as consultants to a company going through a change effort, working to successfully sell that effort to those in the organization. This powerful learning experience, a highlight of the program, allows you to apply new approaches, learn from real-time feedback, and hone your skills.

Led by Professor Serguei Netessine, a global thought leader in business model innovation, the program also leverages the expertise of other Wharton faculty who specialize in big data, artificial intelligence, business ecosystems, and digital disruption. In addition, successful business model innovators will share their experience and insights with participants in two highly interactive sessions. By the end of the program, you will have the tools and skills needed to create value in your organization and to better position it in your market and industry.

Business Model Audit: Uncover within your organization currently unidentified ways to dramatically improve profitability.

Session topics include:

  • The Imperative of Business Model Innovation in the Age of Digital Disruption
  • Navigating Digital Disruption
  • Transforming Around Big Data and AI
  • Lean Development and Discovery-Driven Planning
  • Business Model Innovation in Large Organizations
  • The Risk Driven Business Model Approach
  • Leading and Managing Innovative Change
  • Platform Ecosystems: Strategies that Leverage Networks
  • Opportunities & Challenges of Digital Transformation


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Listen to Faculty Interview:

Professor and Vice Dean of Global Initiatives Serguei Netessine talks about Business Model Innovation for the Digital Age on Wharton Business Radio, SiriusXM.

Who Should Attend

This program is designed for executives who are experiencing significant changes in their markets, anticipating more nimble and robust competition, and/or facing profit margins that are under pressure. The curriculum is particularly relevant for business unit leaders who have been tasked with finding new avenues for growth within an existing product line, service, or geographic territory. C-suite-level executives, and board members seeking to maintain their organizations’ relevance and standing in their industry will also benefit.

Job titles may include:

  • CEO, COO, CMO, CIO, CTO
  • Managing Director, Regional Director, Country Manager
  • Senior Vice President, Vice President
  • Director of Business Development
  • Innovation, R&D Manager

Plan your stay in Philadelphia

Plan Your Stay

This program is held at the Steinberg Conference Center located on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia. Meals and accommodations are included in the program fees. Learn more about planning your stay at Wharton’s Philadelphia campus.


Group Enrollment

To further leverage the value and impact of this program, we encourage companies to send cross-functional teams of executives to Wharton. We offer group enrollment benefits to companies sending four or more participants.

FAQs

What is a business model?

At a very basic level, a business model is a plan for making money (or creating other value if the company is a nonprofit, for instance). At a slightly higher level, the term “business model” describes the way a company supplies products or services to the market to make money.

How can you build a profitable business model?

Simply put, a profitable business model is one in which revenue streams exceed cost structure. Because most models only become profitable at scale, it is critical to understand at what scale that will occur, and which cost/revenue components change at scale. On the other hand, there are profitable business models that are not easily scalable (e.g., a one-person consulting shop).

What is the perfect business model?

There is no such thing. A business model that works somewhere at some point in time may not work at all in another industry, country, or time. It is very difficult to predict which business models will succeed or fail, which is why it is important to experiment with them by testing various assumptions.

Can large companies innovate business models effectively?

They can if they solve three major issues:

  1. Top management needs to provide support and guidance
  2. The company must learn how to experiment
  3. The company must then learn how to pivot based on their experiments

How do the biggest corporations remain innovative?

The key to sustaining innovation at a large company is to continuously review the current business model, seeking any inefficiencies. This process is called a Business Model Audit (as detailed in the book The Risk-Driven Business Model), and it allows the company to constantly challenge its current business model to prepare for the future.

What company has the most innovative business model?

Timing is everything in terms of innovative business models. A given model may seem innovative at a certain time, but, if successful, it often becomes mainstream and eventually inefficient. More than 100 years ago, Sears pioneered the catalogue business model and Ford innovated the way to manufacture cars by creating a vertically integrated business model with an assembly line. Their success led to industry replication, and they became mainstream. Today, Uber’s and Airbnb’s business models are highly innovative.

What are some examples of disruptive business models?

Recent business models that disrupted entire industries include peer-to-peer marketplaces (think eBay), sharing economy (Airbnb is a prime example), on-demand services (like Uber), gig economy (such as Freelancer.com), and subscription business models (think Spotify and Dollar Shave Club). Over time, many of these business models have become mainstream, and some prove unworkable.

What makes business model innovation so difficult in a large company?

Changing a business model often requires major changes in an organization: some lines of business can be eliminated, organizational boundaries can be adjusted, and new people with new skills may be needed for new lines of business. Naturally, the people whose livelihoods may depend on the old business model will continue to support it and doggedly resist change.

Faculty


Serguei Netessine

Serguei Netessine, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Academic Director

Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Professor of Operations, Information, and Decisions; Departmental PhD Program Coordinator; Vice Dean, Global Initiatives, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Business model innovation, operational excellence and entrepreneurship


Eric Clemons

Eric Clemons, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Professor of Operations, Information, and Decisions, Professor of Management, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Information technology and business strategy, managing the risk of information technology implementations, risk-reward tradeoffs in outsourcing and off-shoring


Saikat Chaudhuri

Saikat Chaudhuri, DBASee Faculty Bio

Adjunct Associate Professor of Management; Executive Director, Mack Institute for Innovation Management, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Mergers and acquisitions, organizational adaptation, outsourcing, technological innovation


Kartik Hosanagar

Kartik Hosanagar, PhDSee Faculty Bio

John C. Hower Professor; Professor of Operations, Information, and Decisions, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Internet advertising, internet marketing, and media


Rahul Kapoor

Rahul Kapoor, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Associate Professor of Management, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Innovation, technology management and strategy, industry evolution, firm boundaries, business ecosystems


Nancy Rothbard

Nancy Rothbard, PhDSee Faculty Bio

David Pottruck Professor; Professor of Management; Chairperson, Management Department, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Emotion and identity, work motivation and engagement, work-life and career development


Scott Snyder

Scott Snyder, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Senior Fellow, Mack Institute for Innovation Management, The Wharton School; Partner, Heidrick & Struggles

Testimonials


I took Business Model Innovation because I wanted to expand my thinking and discover if there was more to innovation beyond a product-centric approach. I’ve been with my company for over 23 years, and in that time, what I learned, I learned by doing on the job. As a manufacturer, our approach at the company has always been very product-centric. I enrolled in the program because I thought I could learn something new and expand my thinking. I most certainly did.

Business Model Innovation helped me see a new way to create and sustain a competitive advantage beyond our products and the demand side of our business. It opened my eyes up to new possibilities.

I felt the program struck a perfect balance between depth and breadth. I learned new frameworks that helped structure my larger thinking, such that I could pursue individual concepts and ideas in greater detail afterwards. In other words, the program functioned as a springboard that encouraged my learning process long after. The entire teaching team was fantastic. I want to especially mention Serguei Netessine, Saikat Chaudhuri, and Scott Snyder.

I’m part of Wharton’s General Management Program (GMP) and I can honestly say that every course has been great. Business Model Innovation was really impactful for me and one of my favorites.”

Phil KimChief Strategy & Creative Officer, Universal Nutrition


I'm the founder and president of DMD America, Inc. I offer pharmaceutical and biotech companies a data solution around drug product and pricing information. Our company has had a great run, but as you get bigger, you get nervous about somebody else coming along with a better strategy or way of executing. That’s why I took Business Model Innovation.

To my delight, Professor Netessine and the other faculty taught me how to think differently, so we can protect our company’s future. Professor Clemons framed how companies like Amazon, Netflix and other major disruptors were able to take advantage of market opportunities. He was really good, a solid storyteller with a great sense of humor.

My key takeaway really was understanding how to redefine our business model as it relates to our overall and long-term strategy, and we’ve done quite a bit at my company since I returned from the course. The business model we were shown in the class applies to any company of any size in any industry. So we adapted our thinking, and it helped us frame the secret sauce our company has that makes customers want to work with us. It got everyone excited, and we’re not looking back. This is how we’re doing things in the future.

I’d recommend the course 100%, to any business. It would be especially good for companies who are incumbents, to challenge their thinking and clear out the cobwebs of what seems to be working now but might not work so well in six months or a year. I enjoyed the class so much that I decided to take another Wharton Executive Education course, Strategy and Management for Competitive Advantage.”“

Bill LittleFounder and President, DMD America, Inc.


I am a senior manager of lean transformation at Westpac Banking group. My role is that of an internal consultant with the business banking division in Westpac, enabling innovative solutions and ideas in pursuit of our group CEO’s vision of becoming one of the world’s greatest service organizations.

I became interested in the Business Model Innovation course because lately one can sense that digital disruption is everywhere and forcing the traditional brick-and-mortar (incumbent) business model to change. I knew that I have to get out of that older mentality, go head-on and understand how digital is impacting today’s businesses. There is no doubt that digital is an enabler for disruptive innovations, and traditional businesses must be able to influence key stakeholders towards innovation-led growth mindset. I’ve been reading and talking with people about the subject, but it’s important to have a place where you can get a good overview of the whole and a pathway to get a deeper understanding of the subject.

The program was terrific. Professor Serguei Netessine’s set up and the delivery of the core concept and hands-on exposure were very impressive. The course revolves around business model innovation, my field of interest, however the course also is able to seamlessly introduce concepts of machine learning, platform ecosystem, patterns based on historical events, etc., that may influence innovations.

The insights you can get from the discussion with faculty members and other participants are very valuable. There were some really innovative thinkers there. Plus, we worked through potential solutions for real-world issues that some of the attendees were actually dealing with in their companies. That was a great experience.

One of the key highlights for me based on the insights from the course was exploding the myth that large incumbent businesses owing to the size are somehow helpless to move swiftly and innovate their business models. I realized that large incumbents possess great strengths and can easily audit, experiment with, fine-tune, or pivot their business models. It is quite reassuring to know from the people in the course from different industries who have taken this on and been successful.

Some of us have stayed in touch through a Slack community to brainstorm concepts and share articles and book recommendations. It’s quite helpful and keeps you motivated. Overall, I think Wharton is doing a great job with this program.”

Binu ChackoSenior Manager, Lean Transformation, Westpac Banking Corporation, Sydney, Australia


I decided to enroll in Business Model Innovation because I wanted to strengthen my understanding, and get the right tools, to drive transformational change in an organization. I was interested in capitalizing on digital opportunities and also in overcoming the challenges that digital disruption is presenting to the world.

I loved the program. I got a very clear, practical way to find paths to innovation. The course went beyond just theoretical approaches. It demonstrated how to experiment, allow oneself to risk failure, and to take learnings out of that experience. It helped change my mindset. I think we are still living in a world where failing and experimenting — when it does not directly link to a specific success — is not valued enough, and it prevents us from capitalizing on opportunities. Another topic I really enjoyed, and that I think is critical for business success, was about getting buy-in in order to drive change. The course showed me how to make a real-life impact in a business or organization.

I thought the faculty were very solid. In addition to being professionals with academic backgrounds, they work with leading companies that have gone through transformations or are in the process. This makes their teaching approach very down-to-earth, which in my experience was extremely effective.

Another strong element of the course was that the attendees were a rich blend of multi-industry, multi-functional areas and came from different leadership backgrounds and cultures. That made for a very interesting mix within the dynamic of the program. It fostered a lot of our interaction and enabled well-rounded and inspiring discussions.

I would recommend the program; in fact I’ve already recommended it to several people. I’m still very excited about the things I learned and how much the course inspired me. I think we all realize that there are big opportunities and challenges in the digital space, and Business Model Innovation is a very strong program to help you face that more effectively. I’m now considering taking another Wharton program, the Executive Negotiation Workshop.”

Manuel DulitzkyExecutive leader of multinational companies, Santiago, Chile


Business Model Innovation is an incubation on the topic of business models — it gives you a really good sense of what to think about and how to begin to address challenges in bringing your ideas to market.

I am a leader in a large, well-established organization that is slowly pivoting, and was happy to see that the program is geared for someone like me. We learned best practices that are extremely relevant and timely. I picked up good ideas in every session that related to my own challenges and have been able to apply them. All of the professors brought their own unique point of view and expertise, and I truly enjoyed having such a diverse group of attendees in terms industry segments, and geographies. I learned a lot from them.

It’s a phenomenal program for someone in an organization that is trying to innovate. If that is you, I would say absolutely you should attend.”

Keyur ParikhIT Department Head, The Vanguard Group


Business Model Innovation is a novel idea. You typically think of innovation in the form of technology or products. Serguei Netessine challenged that. Innovating your business model can give you a greater advantage than coming up with a new product or service. That’s important for my company because our industry is the most disrupted one. We know it is mandatory that we innovate, not just with new initiatives and digital, but throughout the company.”

Frank FilippoEVP Print Group, Dow Jones

Date, Location, & Fees

May 4 – 8, 2020Philadelphia, PA$11,280


Download the program schedule, including session details.

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Hotel Information

Fees for this program include accommodations and meals. Prices are subject to change.

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