Digital representations or simulations of physical objects, systems, or experiences.

Virtualization Business Model Pattern

Virtualization Business Model Pattern Featured Image

The virtualization business model pattern involves creating value by offering digital representations or simulations of physical products, services, or experiences. This model enhances accessibility, cost efficiency, flexibility, scalability, and innovation potential.

What is the Virtualization?

What is the Virtualization?

Virtualization Business Model Pattern

Virtualization is a strategy where a company creates value by offering digital representations or simulations of physical products, services, or experiences. In this model, the company leverages technology to provide customers with virtual alternatives that can be accessed, consumed, or interacted with through digital platforms or devices. Virtualization allows companies to deliver value in new and innovative ways, often at a lower cost and with greater flexibility than traditional physical offerings.

Types of Virtualization

Virtualization Business Model Pattern

Different types of virtualization, including some additional examples:

  1. Virtual Reality (VR): Immersive, computer-generated environments that users can interact with using specialized hardware, such as VR headsets and controllers (e.g., Oculus Rift, HTC Vive).
  2. Augmented Reality (AR): Overlaying digital information onto the real world, typically using a smartphone or specialized AR glasses (e.g., Pokémon Go, Microsoft HoloLens).
  3. Mixed Reality (MR): A blend of virtual and augmented reality that allows users to interact with both virtual and real-world objects in a seamless experience (e.g., Magic Leap, Microsoft Mesh).
  4. Virtual Worlds: Online, interactive environments where users can socialize, create, and engage in various activities using digital avatars (e.g., Second Life, VRChat).
  5. Virtual Events and Conferences: Hosting events, meetings, and conferences in virtual environments, allowing participants to attend and interact remotely (e.g., Hopin, Virtway Events).
  6. Virtual Tours and Experiences: Digitally recreating real-world locations or creating entirely new environments for users to explore and learn (e.g., Google Arts & Culture, The Louvre Virtual Tour).
  7. Digital Twins: Virtual replicas of physical objects, systems, or processes that can be used for simulation, optimization, and predictive maintenance (e.g., GE Digital Twin, Siemens Digital Industries).
  8. Virtualized Infrastructure: Using software to simulate hardware components, such as servers, storage, and networks, enabling more efficient resource utilization and management (e.g., VMware, Citrix).
  9. Virtualized Applications: Running applications in a virtual environment, separate from the underlying hardware, to improve compatibility, security, and performance (e.g., Docker, Kubernetes).
  10. Virtual Prototyping: Creating digital prototypes of products or systems for design, testing, and validation before physical manufacturing (e.g., Autodesk VRED, ESI Group).
  11. Virtual Training and Simulation: Using virtual environments to train and educate users in various fields, such as medicine, military, or customer service (e.g., Verizon Virtualized Training, Strivr).
  12. Virtual Assistants and Chatbots: AI-powered virtual entities that can interact with users through natural language, providing assistance, information, or support (e.g., Siri, Alexa, Replika).
  13. Virtual Marketplaces and Economies: Platforms that enable the exchange of virtual goods, services, or currencies within a digital ecosystem (e.g., Roblox, Fortnite, Decentraland).

Why is the Virtualization Business Model Pattern Important?

Different Types Of Virtualization - Image Of A People Wearing A 3D Headset For Virtual World

The virtualization business model pattern is important because it offers several key benefits for businesses and their customers:

  • Accessibility: Virtualization enables companies to make their offerings accessible to a wider audience, as customers can access and consume digital products or services from anywhere, at any time, using various devices and platforms.
  • Cost Efficiency: By virtualizing offerings, companies can reduce costs associated with physical production, distribution, and inventory management, while also enabling customers to access value at a lower price point compared to physical alternatives.
  • Flexibility and Customization: Virtualization allows for greater flexibility and customization, as digital offerings can be easily modified, updated, or personalized to meet individual customer needs and preferences.
  • Scalability: Virtual offerings can be scaled more easily than physical ones, as companies can leverage digital infrastructure and automation to accommodate growing demand without incurring significant additional costs.
  • Innovation Potential: Virtualization opens up new possibilities for innovation, as companies can experiment with novel forms of value creation and delivery that may not be feasible or cost-effective in the physical world.

History and Background to The Virtualization

The history of virtualization can be traced back to various concepts and technologies that emerged in the latter half of the 20th century. Early examples of virtualization include the development of virtual reality technologies in the 1960s, such as the Sensorama machine and the first head-mounted displays. In the 1970s, the concept of virtual memory was introduced in computer systems, allowing multiple processes to share the same physical memory resources.

The 1980s and 1990s saw the rise of virtual environments in gaming and entertainment, with the creation of early virtual worlds like Habitat and the emergence of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) like Ultima Online and EverQuest. During this period, the term “virtual reality” gained popularity, and the development of 3D graphics accelerated the growth of immersive virtual experiences.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, virtualization began to transform the IT industry, with the introduction of virtualized infrastructure solutions like VMware’s virtualization platform. This enabled organizations to run multiple virtual machines on a single physical server, improving resource utilization and flexibility. Subsequently, the concept of virtualization expanded to include applications, desktops, and storage.

The 2000s also witnessed the growth of virtual marketplaces and economies, such as Second Life, which allowed users to create, buy, and sell virtual goods and services. The advent of cloud computing in the late 2000s further accelerated the adoption of virtualization technologies, enabling the delivery of scalable and on-demand computing resources.

In recent years, the rapid advancements in artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and extended reality (XR) technologies have led to the emergence of new virtualization applications, such as digital twins, virtual assistants, and mixed reality experiences. These technologies have transformed various industries, from manufacturing and healthcare to education and entertainment.

Key milestones in the history of virtualization include:

  • 1960s: Early virtual reality concepts and technologies, such as the Sensorama machine and head-mounted displays, are developed.
  • 1970s: Virtual memory is introduced in computer systems, enabling multiple processes to share physical memory resources.
  • 1980s-1990s: Virtual environments and MMOGs emerge in gaming and entertainment, and the term “virtual reality” gains popularity.
  • Late 1990s-early 2000s: Virtualized infrastructure solutions, like VMware’s virtualization platform, transform the IT industry.
  • 2000s: Virtual marketplaces and economies, such as Second Life, gain traction, and cloud computing accelerates the adoption of virtualization technologies.
  • 2010s-present: New virtualization applications, such as digital twins, virtual assistants, and mixed reality experiences, emerge driven by advancements in AI, IoT, and XR technologies.

The Virtualization Business Model Pattern

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

  • Value Proposition: The company’s value proposition shifts from physical products or services to digital representations or simulations that offer comparable or enhanced value to customers.
  • Key Resources: The company’s key resources include the digital technologies, platforms, and infrastructure needed to create, deliver, and support virtual offerings, as well as the skills and expertise required to develop and maintain these digital assets.
  • Key Activities: Key activities involve the design, development, and management of virtual offerings, as well as the continuous improvement and innovation of the digital platforms and experiences.
  • Customer Relationships: Virtualization enables companies to build and maintain customer relationships primarily through digital channels and interactions, such as online platforms, mobile apps, or virtual support services.
  • Revenue Streams: Revenue may be generated through various models, such as subscription fees, pay-per-use, or virtual item sales, depending on the nature of the virtual offering and the target customer segment.

How to Implement the Virtualization Business Model Pattern

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

  • Identify Suitable Offerings: Identify products, services, or experiences that can be effectively virtualized, considering factors such as customer needs, market demand, and technical feasibility.
  • Develop Robust Digital Platforms: Invest in the development of robust and scalable digital platforms that can support the creation, delivery, and management of virtual offerings, ensuring a seamless and engaging user experience.
  • Ensure Data Security and Privacy: Implement strong data security and privacy measures to protect customer information and maintain trust in the virtual offerings and platforms.
  • Foster Digital Skills and Capabilities: Build and nurture the necessary digital skills and capabilities within the organization, including expertise in digital design, development, and management, to support the ongoing growth and innovation of virtual offerings.
  • Continuously Monitor and Optimize: Regularly monitor and analyze customer behavior, usage patterns, and feedback to identify areas for improvement and optimization, ensuring that the virtual offerings remain valuable and relevant to customers.
  • Embrace Agility and Experimentation: Foster a culture of agility and experimentation within the organization, encouraging teams to rapidly prototype, test, and refine new virtual offerings and experiences based on customer insights and market trends.

Trigger Questions

The virtualization business model pattern can be adopted across both value creation and value capture aspects of the business model:

  • What physical products, services, or experiences could potentially be virtualized or digitized to create new value for customers?
  • How can we leverage advanced technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, or digital twins to create immersive and interactive virtual offerings?
  • What unique benefits or affordances can we provide through virtualization, such as increased accessibility, customization, or cost efficiency?
  • How can we design our virtual offerings to be user-friendly, reliable, and seamlessly integrated with customers’ existing systems and processes?
  • What pricing and business models should we employ to capture the value of our virtualized offerings while remaining competitive with physical alternatives?
  • How can we continually innovate and enhance our virtualization capabilities to stay ahead of customer needs and emerging technologies in the market?

Examples of the Virtualization Business Model Pattern

The examples of virtualization business model pattern demonstrate how many industries are being transformed through innovative solutions:

  • Virtual Reality Gaming (Entertainment): Oculus Quest: A standalone VR headset that offers immersive gaming experiences, such as Beat Saber and Superhot VR, without the need for a separate computer or console.
  • Augmented Reality Navigation (Transportation): Google Maps AR: An AR feature within the Google Maps app that overlays walking directions and place markers onto the user’s real-world view, making navigation more intuitive and efficient.
  • Virtual Events (Conferences and Exhibitions): vFairs: A virtual event platform that enables organizations to host interactive online events, such as job fairs, trade shows, and conferences, with features like virtual booths, webinars, and networking lounges.
  • Digital Twin (Manufacturing): GE Digital’s Predix: A platform that creates virtual replicas of physical assets, such as wind turbines or jet engines, to optimize performance, predict maintenance needs, and simulate scenarios for improved decision-making.
  • Virtual Training (Healthcare): Osso VR: A virtual reality surgical training platform that provides realistic, hands-on simulations for medical professionals to practice and refine their skills in a risk-free environment.
  • Virtual Marketplace (Retail): Sotheby’s Virtual Gallery: An online platform that showcases and sells high-end art, jewelry, and collectibles through immersive virtual gallery experiences, expanding the reach of traditional auction houses.
  • Virtual Collaboration (Professional Services): NVIDIA Omniverse: A collaborative platform that enables teams to work together on 3D design projects in real-time, regardless of their location or the software tools they use.
  • Virtual Education (Learning): Labster: A virtual laboratory platform that offers interactive science simulations and experiments, allowing students to explore complex concepts and develop practical skills in a safe, accessible, and cost-effective manner.

These examples demonstrate the diverse range of industries and use cases where virtualization is being applied, from entertainment and gaming to manufacturing, healthcare, education, and professional services. Each example highlights how virtualization technologies are transforming traditional processes, creating new opportunities for innovation, and delivering value to users in unique and compelling ways.


The virtualization business model pattern has gained significant traction in recent years, as digital technologies have advanced and customer preferences have shifted towards more flexible, accessible, and cost-effective solutions.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the virtualization model is likely to remain a powerful strategy for businesses seeking to innovate and compete in the digital age.

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