Digitalization is changing the economy more and more. There used to be bookstores or record shops, but today books are mostly bought as e-books and music is being streamed. Customers have the opportunity to inform their selves anytime and anywhere via search engines or comparison portals and can communicate and socialize via social networks (“always-on” culture). This increases the power and the influence of the customers on the market enormously. The market is driven by demand, which increases the pressure on companies to become better than their competitors in order to stay competitive. In addition, the requirements of customers are evolving. They want a higher and better quality as well as individual products at low prices. To fulfill these wishes, companies have to match their business models to the customers. This they can be by using communications through online marketing, by networking and partnering for new products and by involving customers in the ecosystem and associated with that, using customer feedback.

Business models are self-imposed regulations of a company in order to profitably classify the individual business processes. Business models answer various questions.

These can be:

  • What is offered?
  • Who belongs to the customers?
  • How to communicate with them?
  • How is the service provided?
  • How are the transactions done?

Digital business models must also include these questions. In all these areas, information is generated that needs to be collected, processed, analyzed and shared. This is done by digital technologies, also called smart products.

Smart products are products that have all the information about their manufacturing process and can acquire and share the data during production and use. You can communicate with machines, people and systems. If a product passes through the production, each machine will be informed about which process follows. This makes it possible to respond flexibly to deviations and manual configuration steps are no longer required. This results in a self-organized production that simplifies and optimizes all processes and thus optimizes and automates the entire value chain. As a result, the company has the opportunity to develop new or better products, to produce products which fulfill individual customer wishes and to offer digital additional services for products.

The opportunity for a digital business enterprise and smart products company are greater flexibility in production, more productive and efficient manufacturing, and the possibility to produce small quantities profitably.