I'm back to working on a business model for the next economy and have been thinking today about different kinds of enterprise architectures. Here's the four that do a good job for me of sorting out the characteristics I'm focused on at the moment:
Commission architecture: Lots of enterprises make a percentage off what they sell. They compete on price and appeal to those customers looking for a bargain. Because they are focused on the percentage they are making, they run a lean operation. They are prone to the deceit and exploitations that we've recently witnessed among brokers of mortgages, derivatives and credit swaps. They cannot provide extra service to the vast numbers they make a small markup off of. They would say "you're already getting a bargain, we cannot listen to you".
Production architecture: Many other enterprises produce deliverables for their market of consumers. They compete on the quality of what they offer and appeal to customers looking to get what they pay for. They operate production facilities to deliver their product/service mix consistently, perhaps even by Six Sigma standards. They are prone to feature creep and indulging consumer excesses like the manufacturers of SUV's and oversized pickup trucks. They would say "we're delivering what the market demands, take it or leave it".
Persuasion architecture: Relatively fewer enterprises influence new customers to take the risk and try out their value proposition. They make offer support for buyers facing a complex range of issues prior to making purchase. They may put out a freemium deal where the free starter kit is good to go and only a small percentage buy the premium version. They may customize what they sell to each customer's preferences. They are prone to "give away the store" in the process of enticing new buyers to come on board like those pizza retailers who offer too many discount coupons to break even.
Participation architecture: The internet is revolutionizing this possible approach to enterprise design. Businesses can be platforms where potential customers show up, sign in and contribute. They maintain profiles for each individual and places to share among themselves. Those that join in talk up this place that understands how potential customers can contribute ideas, guide decisions and spread the word. While this crowd has little or no respect for proprietary content, copyrights or walled gardens, they are thrilled to make a difference by sharing the value they experience. These enterprises are prone to go viral and to scale rapidly after a slow start. They would say "here's what we've heard as we've listened to you give us so much valuable input to consider. Thanks!".