In today's networked world, and with ubiquitous access to the internet, knowledge is fast becoming. This phenomenon has resulted in a globalised economy, highly mobile workforce and more informed customers. Furthermore, this trend has necessitated that businesses adapt the ways in which they innovate, moving from closed to collaborative, open innovation practices. A firm's business model is central to its open innovation practices.
SMEs, which are characterised by constrained resources, can benefit significantly from leveraging knowledge and ideas from external value networks. To increase the sustainability of SMEs, the business model also needs to be leveraged, especially in a turbulent environment where SMEs need to make the most of their resources. A review of the extant literature reveals that the role of the business model in the use of open innovation is unclear. An understanding of how its building blocks relate to the adaptability of the existing business model to make use of open innovation was also found to require exploration.
This qualitative research study, by way of semi-structured interviews, explored the concept of open innovation with 17 SMEs in the ICT sector in order to provide insight into the role of the business model in the use of inbound open innovation. Further, the adaptability of the SME business model in the adoption of inbound open innovation was also investigated by analysing the business model at a building block level.
The results of this study show that the existing business model of an SME positively influences the use of inbound open innovation, acting as an enabler. Secondly, it revealed that the maturity of the business plays a role in determining the SMEs openness and adaptability to inbound open innovation. Lastly, cost drivers, key partners, revenue streams and value propositions were ranked most adaptable when taking advantage of inbound open innovation; while key resources, customer relationships and customer segments were ranked least adaptable. This finding was applicable across all business model maturity stages in SMEs.
The study concludes by proposing a new model designed to assist SMEs with their decision making process around the use of inbound open innovations, the Open Innovation Business Model (OI-BM) Flexibility Framework.
Mini Dissertation (MBA)--University of Pretoria, 2017.