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ACCA Outlines 12 Characteristics Essential to Future Business Model Innovation

ACCA highlights UK blockchain startup Provenance, which helps companies provide much-needed transparency into global food and fashion supply chains, as an example of a business model of the future. | Image credit: Provenance

A new report published this week by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) identifies 12 characteristics behind business model design, that are being combined by organizations around the world in different ways to create new sources of value.

Business models of the future: systems, convergence and characteristics identifies 12 characteristics that business models of the future are putting together in different combinations. The report asserts that these characteristics behind the models — and their ‘plug and play’ nature — are the cornerstones of future-proof business model design:



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  • Multi-layered
  • Participatory
  • Platform-ready
  • Multi-capitalist
  • Purposeful
  • Data sensible
  • Boundary-testing
  • Open
  • Potential-enhancing
  • Fair played
  • Convening
  • Restorative

Jimmy Greer, head of sustainability research and policy at ACCA and author of the report said, “New tools mean that business model innovation is easier to achieve than ever and organizations are using multiple models in different ways for value creation. But the challenges of today’s world demand a wider, more systemic view.

“Organizational design disruptions do not occur in a vacuum. They play out across the complex landscape of economies and societies. While there have always been challenges throughout the course of modern economic development, as long waves of technology ebb and flow, social institutions underperform and environmental limits are tested, today these challenges are now emerging in new spaces.”

The report examines six case studies from organizations around the world putting a combination of these characteristics into action, including:

  • Provenance (London, UK) — Provenance uses blockchain technology to provide much-needed transparency into global food and fashion supply chains; this comes in the form of tools that companies can use to verify their products and a platform to tell their stories. Provenance’s platform has successfully tracked Indonesia’s tuna supply chain and helped Unilever and Sainsbury’s improve the transparency and sustainability of smallholder tea farmers in Malawi.
  • Crowdo (Singapore) SMEs are the driving force of South East Asia. Despite their importance, access to traditional financing remains challenging. Crowdo is a 30,000+-member-strong fintech platform offering alternative financing solutions including peer-to-business lending and equity crowdfunding across Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. The platform provides a standardized way for companies, coming from a range of backgrounds and with a variety of financial literacy skills and access to resources, to make loan applications on the platform.

“The accountancy profession is well placed to support the growth of business models of the future that help build resilient, inclusive and prosperous societies. The unique contribution that professional accountants can make to how a business model proposes, creates and captures value, means that they can play a meaningful, strategic role in building organizations that are ready for the future,” Greer said.

But, as the report points out, for accountants to be ready to make the most of these opportunities will demand new skills. Financial acumen, technical knowledge and ethical judgement are attributes that the accountancy profession can uniquely bring to support business model innovation across the three spheres of value proposition, value creation and value capture. But to navigate the contours of a changing economy, new mindsets — inherent to the long-term success of any business in the future — are required, including the ability to:

  • Think in systems
  • Understand how to capture and assess new sources of value
  • Build creative capabilities to think differently and problem solve, and
  • Adopt a long-term mindset.

Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]


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