The Impact of Digitalization on Business Models

Willem Adriaan Bouwman, Shahrokh Nikou, Francisco J. Molina-Castillo, Mark de Reuver

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    181 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose – This paper aims to explore how digital technologies have forced small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to reconsider and experiment with their business models (BMs) and how this contributes to their innovativeness and performance.


    Design/methodology/approach – An empirical study has been conducted on 338 European SMEs actively using social media and big data to innovate their BMs. Four in-depth case studies of companies involved in BM innovation have also been carried out.


    Findings – Findings show that the use of social media and big data in BMI is mainly driven by strategic and innovation-related internal motives. External technology turbulence plays a role too. BMI driven by social media and big data has a positive impact on business performance. Analysis of the case studies shows that BM is driven by big data rather than by social media.


    Research limitations/implications – Research into big data- and social media-driven BMs needs more insight into how components are affected and how SMEs are experimenting with adjusting their BMs, specifically in terms of human and organizational factors.


    Practical implications – Findings of this study can be used by managers and top-level executives to better understand how firms experiment with BMI, what affects business model components and how implementation might affect BMI performance.


    Originality/value – This paper is one of the first research contributions to analyse the impact of digitalization, specifically the impact of social media and big data on a large number of European SMEs.


    Keywords Business model, Business model innovation, Social media, Big data, Digitalization


    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)105–124
    JournalDigital Policy, Regulation and Governance
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Business model
    • Big data
    • Business model innovation
    • Social Media
    • digitalization

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