The Acceleration of Digitalization and its Influence on Business Model Innovation : A qualitative study of Swedish SMEs from the perspective of a business developer

University essay from Jönköping University/IHH, Företagsekonomi

Abstract: Background: Covid-19 has accelerated digitalization and pressured companies across multiple sectors to digitally transform their operations. Such adaptation requires businesses to rethink and change their existing business models, thus, business model innovation (BMI). Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), whose success is highly dependent on their experimentation and development of new technologies, are struggling with this adaptation.   Problem: SMEs, the heart and backbone of economic growth, struggle with implementing digitalization due to their lack of awareness, evaluation, knowledge, and resources. Regardless of their struggle, they are now forced to change their structures and business models. While there is an abundance of research on the impact of digitalization on BMI those studies rarely focus on how the acceleration of digitalization has influenced SMEs BMI.  Purpose: The purpose of this research is to explore how the acceleration of digitalization has impacted BMI of Swedish SMEs. The findings from this research are expected to contribute with academic value to the theoretical fields under investigation, Swedish policymakers, and business authorities, along with providing guidance for individual SMEs.  Method: This study has an exploratory approach, an inductive design within the interpretive philosophy. To collect the primary data, ten qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with business developers who possessed strong expertise and knowledge within the investigated fields. The data analysis followed Charmaz’s (2006) constructivist grounded theory, which emphasized a coding process including initial and focused coding.   Conclusion: The empirical findings shed light on important attributes and actions for a successful BMI which set the basis for the proposed model. The 6-step model explains the process of how an SME can successfully adapt and change under external pressure, such as the acceleration of digitalization and a crisis like Covid-19. The 6 steps include Create Awareness, Develop a Clear Strategy, Acquire Knowledge, Develop an Organizational Culture, Pursue Experimentation, and Implement the New Business Model. This process is not only crucial for a business’ competitive advantage but rather for its survival.

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