The day just ended, and you can't stop thinking about the cool new feature that may improve your online venture. Basic questions keep popping up. Is it going to bring more visitors? Is it going to improve their experience? How much is it going to cost? And then, you recall that only two days ago you were dealing with the same dilemma. Different feature, though.
Today, opportunities to improve an online venture abound, making it increasingly difficult to spot the right ones. Fortunately, most Internet-based ventures are fundamentally similar—they process, manage, and distribute information. Articles, books, pictures, songs, videos—they are all information. Therefore, it is possible to develop a unique framework that can guide all innovation efforts that an online venture must sustain.
Since the information or packages of information distributed (offered) by an online venture lose their premium value almost instantly, it is rather impossible to innovate at the offering level. Therefore, an online venture must innovate at the whole-offering level.
And by whole-offering I mean all of a venture's offerings plus the mechanism by which they are managed and delivered to the customer ("customer" is a generic term for visitor, community member, or whoever consumes the information offerings).
Although, in many cases, it is the main revenue generator, the advertising side of an online venture is fully dependent on the information side. More so, it addresses a different set of customers. Therefore, the whole-offering does not include advertising offerings; just information offerings.
Most online ventures have just one whole-offering. In these cases, the whole-offering can be identified with the venture. Some examples of whole-offerings include book distribution (Amazon.com), search engine (Google), encyclopedia (Wikipedia), video distribution (YouTube), and photo distribution (Flickr).
The logic behind the innovation model is relatively simple. On one side, there are the customers, who need information to better their existence. Fundamentally, people follow three steps when employing information: search through the available information, gather relevant information, and then aggregate the relevant information according to a particular knowledge or algorithm in order to address an issue (e.g., entertainment, education).