Insights Visualize Your AI Opportunity as a Threat to Make Progress

Visualize Your AI Opportunity as a Threat to Make Progress

What do you respond to first? The threat to maintain and grow your existing business, or the business opportunity you have yet to seize? This is the question facing every CEO and innovation leader. In your competitive business the threat is coming consistently from your direct competitor and looking to potentially take existing business away or out-compete for your new business. Think of yourself as the Taxi company that is competing with all the other Taxi companies in the market. The question is… what is stopping you from being the next Uber and not just the Taxi company that gets disrupted?

To visualize this scenario, see the following image, which tells the story of a company and its competitor, but the untapped market that is available if it looks at the picture differently. Which of these circles is the most important?

Notice the overlap between your market and the competitor market… but also notice the under-served market with less competition. The overlap is where we visualize the threat… the everyday competition we experience to our core businesses. The non-consumption is what we traditionally think of as the opportunity… the new possibilities associated with changing the business. The challenge is that we struggle to respond to that opportunity because it requires changing the nature of the business or the method of engagement.

To be successful, look at the new opportunity as a threat. What does that mean? It means to think of opportunity under the lens of what WILL impact your business if you do nothing.

Why is this important for AI? The disruptive force offered as a result of AI is greater than any we’ve seen before us. The likelihood that someone will use that capability to drive efficiency in the market that disrupts the products being sold is significant. Here’s how this happens…

Most new products don’t disrupt the entire market right away. They tend to enter the market as less feature rich and less expensive than the competitor and often take a portion of the market not currently served by the current platform as a core focus. Notice the image below enters below the “market leading” platform or capability. An example of this would be a self-service personal-will-and-testament service in competition to the services offered by a full-service law firm. At the moment, that full-service law firm would serve the majority of serious customers.

At the moment, the existing product still does not view the new product as a threat. It continues to iterate and add new features and likely cost to its core business. However… something happens that the existing product does not expect! The new product continues to iterate. What you’ll see below is the new product eating more… and more… of the existing product’s business, to a point where the ease of use and the new capabilities disrupts the market. The existing product is left with only a small share of the market… the ones that REQUIRE the product from the past, not what is offered as a commodity now. Think of how AI will continue to disrupt the legal market where increasingly sophisticated use cases can be done self-service vs. requiring a full-service lawyer.

So… what does all this have to do with threat framing? In the past the opportunity and disruption that was possible was relatively slow moving. What we’ve seen recently is that the exposure of most businesses to AI-driven disruption is serious and immediate. This could be incremental innovation that creates a competitive gap (threat to existing business), or a change in how you engage your customers that represents a new way of doing business (one that is difficult to catch up to). Said another way… now is the time to think about the opportunities for your business as though you had to start over.

Ask the question… what if I had to start the business over again today? How would I build a business using AI as an asset to me? How would expressing the mission of the business in the market be different based on that? In order to not only see this, but take action, a company needs to understand the immediacy of the opportunity and visualize it as a threat.

Asked another way… if you KNEW, with absolute certainty that an opportunity would disrupt your entire business in three years, wouldn’t you react to it? Of course you would. We need to plan with the certainty that this is not only true… but imperative to where our businesses need to go.

For more, I talk about Incremental vs. Disruptive Innovation in this video!