Published: 6 May 2020

Winning the Race for Survival: How New Manufacturing Technologies are Driving Business-Model Innovation

Sinking, swimming or surfing: Perspectives on operating and business models

The shock brought by the pandemic is liberating firms to make numerous experiments. Some will fail, while others will succeed. This creates a tipping point for a long overdue conversation about new business models in advanced manufacturing and supply chains.

As organizations settle into either a new normal or plan their return to pre-pandemic operations, the question arises as to whether firms will “snap back” to normal or settle on some new equilibrium. We may be on the precipice of “Operational Darwinism”, wherein mere reductions in costs may not be enough to compete against leaders who make manufacturing a rapid and key part of their digital innovation edge. In this paper, we explore what new business models might look like and how they are likely to interact with both existing operating models in the context of the new normal brought about by the pandemic.

As most manufacturing firms continue to realize their revenues through traditional channels, COVID-19 has created the need for rapid and radical innovation in both business and operating models. The future belongs to those who are able to manage uncertainty and innovate rapidly.

Firms that rebound from the pandemic disruption will have some choices to make.

  • What is the role of advanced manufacturing and production technologies in shaping new operating and business models?
  • What are the operating and business-model innovations worth keeping once the crisis is over?
  • Will firms quickly return to “business as usual” or will they examine what worked (and what didn’t) during this period of “mass experimentation at scale”?
  • Would the resilience achieved today only be made possible through super-human efforts justified by being in crisis mode, and not sustainable in normal modes of working?
  • Will only the handful of superstar firms and state-funded oligopolists get stronger and more dominant in the manufacturing landcape?

In this context, the World Economic Forum has been working with its Advanced Manufacturing and Production community to find the answers and ensure the manufacturing sector remains relevant in this fast-changing environment. The findings are published in three releases:

  • 1
    Sinking, swimming or surfing: perspectives on operating and business models (May 2020)
  • 2
    Accelerating business models innovation (to be published)
  • 3
    Transforming industries at scale (to be published)

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