In the future, successful business models will be built around data

Data-driven business models

Forschungsfeld »Datengetriebene Geschäftsmodellentwicklung«, viele Post-its auf einem White Board
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Companies with data-driven business models base their core business on data. This focus, or dependence, on data can affect all dimensions of a business model; the value proposition as well as value added or the revenue model. Value added is generated from data by making data the company’s key resource. This means its core activities include data acquisition, data evaluation or data use.

Data as a key resource for business models

A core business based on data is nothing new per se. Nevertheless, new technologies are providing more and more industries and companies with ever broader opportunities to take the now massive amounts of data that are being generated and use it for their own purposes, for example to implement smart products with the help of wireless sensor networks or to integrate people more closely into decision-making processes through mobile computing. One example is how the sensor-based monitoring and adjustment of fuel consumption changed both the value proposition and value added for engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce. Another is how office supplies retailer Staples now manages its online prices based on customer location data.


A new way to add value...

All these data-driven solutions show that when data becomes the core element of a business model, this goes far beyond merely evaluating and using data to make the process of value creation more efficient. Companies must therefore ask themselves – not only in production – how they can use technologies as well as existing or new in-house and third-party data to deliver data-driven services and additional business models. To see clearly just how disruptive the impact of new technologies and data can be on value-added structures in ecosystems and the kind of challenges they pose, one need only look at publishing and media companies.


… requires new tools

Only by continuously monitoring and evaluating technological developments and changes in their own ecosystem can companies hope to offer data-driven services better, more cost effectively and perhaps even earlier than their competitors. This often requires far-reaching changes to how value is added and recorded. And this in turn requires new tools that complement existing creative methods with a focus on data.


Rethink desired – More focus on data for future success


The move to a data-centric view represents a paradigm shift and a major driver of the digital transformation for previously non-data-driven companies. In the future, every successful company must have a clear idea of what data means to it.

And this focus on data will be reflected in almost all areas: in its range of services, its revenue model, in key resources, processes, cost structures, in its corporate culture, its focus on customers and networks, and in its corporate strategy. Only by focusing comprehensively on data and taking into account the effects that such a shift will have on the entire business process can a company hope for lasting success in the future.

How we are developing data-driven business models

To ensure that the availability of more data does in fact lead to new data-driven services and new business models, new tools must be developed that complement existing creative methods with a focus on data. To this end, we are investigating the impact of data-driven business models on the ecosystem and exploring new development methods.

What we specifically do for companies:

  • We identify and evaluate technology trends and draw up technology and application roadmaps.
  • We prepare market studies on technologies and their fields of application.
  • We analyze corporate ecosystems.
  • We determine digital maturity and derive fields of action for data-driven services and organizations.
  • We develop and evaluate data-driven services (e.g. through user integration in JOSEPHS® or through process observations in the L.I.N.K. Test and Application Center).
  • We identify and estimate the potential of data for future business models.
  • We design digital transformation processes on a scientific basis and guide their organizational integration.

Practical insights

Focus Projects and Publications


Find out more about our current focus projects and pubications in our fields of research.


IT-Outsourcing Behavior in the Logistics Sector

An International Systematic and Comparative Scenario Analysis

Find out more about Fraunhofer SCS


Success and added value thanks to data

Sustained success in a changing world: this is the vision of Fraunhofer SCS


Scientific expertise in the reference process

The methodological expertise developed in our fields of research is informed by our specially developed Reference Process for Digital Transformation. Read about what this initiative means to us, and how we can use our expertise to comprehensively support companies.