"Disruptive technology should be framed as a marketing challenge, not a technological one"
- Clayton M. Christensen, The Innovator's Dilemma
Let’s talk about Digital Transformation. Better still let’s talk about AI as the future of digital transformation
Digital transformation is all about change. Changing behaviours. At the individual level, at the enterprise level and at the market level
Now change is best understood as 1 part technology and 9 parts culture
The AI trap is very simple
It assumes a future where change is 9 parts technology and 1 part culture
Let me explain
Over the past two decades we have been engaged in the commercialisation of an number AIaaS business models (e.g. Medical, Wealth Management, Accounting & Budgeting, Enterprise Risk, Operational Risk, eCommerce, Logistics, Cyber Risk Insurance, Captive Insurance, Venture Capital and Funds Management)
In each case the technology struggled to gain market traction
The simple answer is nothing scares a well paid professional more than the idea of their 'wealth of experience' sitting in somebody else's pocket
In each case the experts openly rejected the idea of their industry expertise being bundled into a best of breed software package
They rejected the idea of AI as a transformative digital solution in their industry
Truth is no one wants to be digitised
But everyone is happy to randomly access the expertise of others... for free
As a founder or product manager it is easy to make the fatal mistake of being more excited by the technology than the market.
The people who are destined to use it... and, yes, the vested interests of those who are destined to be disrupted by it
But the truth is the technology is ubiquitous. What is rare is the break through story. The story that changes the way people think about the technology
Be it Facebook’s database for friends or Snapchat’s mobile app for teenage sexting. Technology must have a cultural connection. A shared purpose. If is to be embraced
Which leads us to the real challenge of selling disruptive innovation… marketing and communications
To understand this we need to revisit the basics of Branding and then ask the question: How do we rethink Branding in the age of disruptive AI?
Arguably the only two books on Branding you’ll ever needed to read is Al Ries and Jack Trout’s 'The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing' and Naomi Klein’s 'NO LOGO'
Ries & Trout’s showed us the world of Branding and Marketing from inside the agency bubble
Klein’s effort basically popped the bubble from the outside
The Ries and Trout message was simple:
Marketing is a battle of perceptions, not facts. You need to be seen to be different
I guess you could say the message flow looked something like this…
Klein’s was all about how the Logos (the word) had grabbed centre stage. She provided her readers with the tools to deconstruct the cultural artefact that is the Brand
The core idea is Branding is a Singularity.
It is about owning a word, a phrase or concept in the audience’s mind that is exclusive to you and your product
Think: Just Do It, Google or the iPhone.
Own the word. Own the category.
But these ideas are now 30-50 years old. Yet fast forward and we discover today Branding is still about the Singularity
The difference is now it's about owning an experience that is exclusive to you and your product
Think: Wearing Nike or using the iPhone or going to Disneyland or McDonald's
Own the experience. Own the category.
Now, let’s try bundling up, and expressing, the AI experience
There is the Augmented Experience. AI as tool. Much the same as Excel or Word or Google is a tool
Arguably it already exists. In the future the experience will just be more… augmented
Talk with Google. Rather than type with Google. A sensory shift in behaviour… in how we communicate with machines
Then there is the transformative experience
AI the disruptor. The AI of creative destruction. The AI of cultural obsolescence and professional dystopia… The AI (i.e. the world’s best expert on everything) in your pocket
The promise of a future of digital transformation that changes everything… at least when it comes to how we have come to define our self worth in the knowledge economy
So how do you sell the idea of ‘Here’s a better doctor than you!’ to a doctor? Or, “Here’s a better risk manager than you!” to the CRO? Or, “Here’s a better VC than you!” to a VC?
Truth is you don’t. You don’t even try
As Ries and Trout would say… There is no better. Only different
But different... how?
Clayton Christensen, in his seminal work "The Disruptor's Dilemma", suggests disruptive innovation is not a transformative product but one that significantly reduces the cost of entry for the customer
Disruption is a function of price
Incumbents are disrupted by new entrants offering a discount solution
Seemingly "More for Less" is the new capitalist's moment
But, as I explained some years ago when Rethinking the Kodak Moment…
The question [of Digital Transformation] is no longer one of "creative destruction", at least within the context of disrupting oneself
Today it’s all about how can you take the profitable "cash cow" of a market leader and incorporate it into your digital product or service as a free "digital carrot" to quickly attract and dominate a niche market vertical across a global network
This then is what keeps the market savvy digital marketing manager awake at night in 2020
It’s not what is my competition doing to disrupt me?
But who is planning on giving my product or service away for free to consolidate or acquire a new market position?
And what highly profitable product or service should we be disrupting with a free digital offering?
You see the new paradigm isn't so much "More with Less" but "Everything for Nothing”.
So the disruptive narrative for AI isn’t about AI being the best "x" in your pocket
It's about being the "x" bundled in for 'free' to attract customers to a NEW Market or Category
How would that work for you?
Well maybe that’s a question for another day…