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Growth paths for overcoming the digitalization paradox

: Gebauer, Heiko; Fleisch, Elgar; Lamprecht, Claudio; Wortmann, Felix


Business horizons 63 (2020), No.3, pp.313-323
ISSN: 0007-6813
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IMW ()
Digitalization; Digitalization paradox; Growth traps; Growth strategy; Businessmodel modifications; Innovation capability; Strategic partnerships

Despite the demonstrated opportunities for revenue enhancement through digitalization, companies often experience a digitalization paradox. This paradox suggests that although companies may invest in digitalization, they often fail to achieve the expected revenue enhancement. In reporting research on 52 companies, we make the following four contributions: First, we focus on industrial companies in the business-to-business context, which largely have been neglected in previous research on digitalization. Second, we introduce the digitalization paradox as an important phenomenon in the discussion of revenue enhancement through digitalization. Third, we describe three growth paths: (1) commercializing digital solutions, (2) utilizing product connectivity, and (3) establishing an IoT-platform-based application business. For each growth path, the article takes a dynamic perspective on business models, highlighting triggers and modifications in business-model components (including value proposition, value-creation activities, and profit equation). Fourth, while the described modifications require initial investments to let these growth paths develop, we highlight how growth traps can prevent investments in business-model modifications from leading to revenue enhancement and how they can ultimately lead to the digitalization paradox.