Open Business Model Pattern

Collaborating with ecosystem partners to create and capture value

Open Business Model Pattern

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The open business model pattern is a strategy where companies actively collaborate with external partners, such as suppliers, customers, or complementors, to create and capture value.

What is the Open Business Model Pattern?

This model involves sharing resources, knowledge, and expertise with ecosystem partners to drive innovation, expand market reach, and enhance the overall value proposition. By leveraging the strengths and capabilities of their partners, companies can unlock new opportunities and gain a competitive edge in their respective industries.

Open Business Model Pattern

Evolution of the Open Business Model Pattern

The open business model pattern has its roots in the early days of the software industry, where open-source software development first challenged traditional, closed business models. In the 1980s and 1990s, companies like Linux and Apache demonstrated the power of collaborative, community-driven software development. This approach allowed for rapid innovation, shared resources, and reduced costs compared to proprietary software development.

As the internet grew in popularity and accessibility, the principles of openness and collaboration began to spread beyond the software industry. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, online platforms such as eBay and Amazon demonstrated the value of creating open marketplaces where third-party sellers could reach a wide audience of potential customers. This approach allowed for expanded market reach and complementary offerings, while the platform owners benefited from increased transactions and customer loyalty.

The rise of social media in the mid-2000s further accelerated the adoption of the open business model pattern. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube relied on user-generated content and third-party developers to create value and drive engagement. By opening up their platforms to external contributors, these companies were able to rapidly scale their offerings and build massive user bases.

In the 2010s, the sharing economy emerged as another prominent example of the open business model pattern. Companies like Airbnb and Uber leveraged the principles of openness and collaboration to disrupt traditional industries like hospitality and transportation. By enabling individuals to share their homes and vehicles with others, these platforms created new sources of value and unlocked previously underutilized resources.

Open Innovation Model

Today, the open business model has become a key driver of innovation and growth across a wide range of industries. From finance and healthcare to manufacturing and energy, companies are increasingly partnering with ecosystem players to create and capture value. This shift has been driven in part by the growing recognition that no single company can possess all the resources and capabilities needed to succeed in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing business environment.

Some key milestones in the development of the open business model include:

  • The rise of open-source software in the 1980s and 1990s
  • The emergence of online marketplaces in the late 1990s and early 2000s
  • The growth of social media platforms in the mid-2000s
  • The advent of the sharing economy in the 2010s
  • The increasing adoption of open innovation and ecosystem partnerships across industries

Why is the Open Business Model Pattern Important?

The open business model pattern is important because it offers several key benefits for businesses and their ecosystem partners:

  • Collaborative Innovation: By working closely with partners, companies can access new ideas, technologies, and expertise, fostering a culture of innovation and enabling the development of novel products, services, or processes.
  • Shared Resources and Risks: Open business models allow companies to share resources and risks with their partners, reducing individual investments and increasing the chances of success in new ventures.
  • Expanded Market Reach: Collaborating with partners can help companies access new markets, customer segments, or distribution channels, enabling faster growth and increased market penetration.
  • Complementary Offerings: By partnering with complementors, companies can offer more comprehensive and integrated solutions to customers, enhancing the overall value proposition and creating a competitive differentiation.
  • Improved Agility and Adaptability: Open business models foster a more agile and adaptable approach to business, allowing companies to quickly respond to changing market conditions, customer needs, or technological advancements.

Impact on the Business Model

The open business model pattern significantly impacts various aspects of a company’s overall business model:

  • Key Partners: Ecosystem partners become a central component of the business model, with collaboration and value co-creation as key priorities.
  • Key Activities: Key activities include managing partnerships, facilitating knowledge sharing, and coordinating joint initiatives to drive innovation and value creation.
  • Value Proposition: The value proposition is enhanced by leveraging the combined strengths and capabilities of the company and its partners, offering more comprehensive and innovative solutions to customers.
  • Customer Segments: Open business models can help companies reach new customer segments or address unmet needs through collaborative offerings and expanded market reach.
  • Revenue Streams: Revenue may be generated through shared profits, licensing agreements, or other value-sharing mechanisms that align the interests of the company and its partners.

How to Implement the Open Business Model Pattern

To successfully implement the open business model pattern, companies should follow these steps:

  • Identify Potential Partners: Identify ecosystem partners who have complementary strengths, resources, or expertise that can contribute to value creation and innovation.
  • Define Collaboration Objectives: Clearly define the objectives and expected outcomes of the collaboration, ensuring alignment between the company and its partners.
  • Establish Trust and Transparency: Foster a culture of trust, transparency, and open communication among partners to facilitate effective collaboration and knowledge sharing.
  • Develop Governance Mechanisms: Establish clear governance mechanisms, including roles, responsibilities, and decision-making processes, to ensure smooth collaboration and conflict resolution.
  • Align Incentives and Value Sharing: Create incentive structures and value-sharing mechanisms that align the interests of all partners and encourage long-term commitment to the collaboration.
  • Monitor and Adapt: Continuously monitor the performance of the collaboration, assess market feedback, and adapt the partnership strategy as needed to optimize value creation and capture.

Examples of the Open Business Model Pattern

Some examples of the open business model pattern:

  • Procter & Gamble: P&G’s Connect + Develop program involves collaborating with external partners, such as universities, startups, and suppliers, to drive innovation and develop new products across its various business units.
  • Spotify: The music streaming platform has an open API that allows developers to create apps and integrations, enhancing the user experience and expanding Spotify’s ecosystem.
  • ARM Holdings: This semiconductor and software design company licenses its intellectual property to a wide range of partners, including chipmakers and device manufacturers, enabling them to develop innovative products based on ARM’s technology.
  • Salesforce: The cloud-based CRM provider has an extensive ecosystem of partners, including app developers, system integrators, and consultants, who build complementary solutions and services on top of the Salesforce platform.


The open business model pattern represents a shift towards a more collaborative and ecosystem-driven approach to value creation. By actively seeking partnerships and leveraging the strengths of their partners, companies can drive innovation, expand their market reach, and enhance their overall competitiveness. As the business landscape becomes increasingly interconnected and complex, the ability to effectively collaborate and co-create value with ecosystem partners will be a critical success factor for many organizations.

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