Positioning for Success – Working with the Experts
I recently joined Massive Analytic (MAL) as COO with the remit of running the commercial side of the business. I was attracted by the underlying IP, including the number of patents filed in the UK and US, as well as the powerful predictive capability of the proprietary artificial precognition. It’s clear to me that Artificial Intelligence is an exciting market. The sheer range of opportunities and business problems to potentially solve also creates challenges though. If you look at our website, for example, it’s not immediately apparent who we serve and why. When one’s underlying technology is capable of providing insights in many areas, it can feel a little like being a kid in a toy shop. The company has had some success working with customers in a large range of industries, including financial services, defence, local government, transport, healthcare, insurance and transport. As a 30 - person company though, there are only so many toys we can play with and fix at any point in time.
The executive team therefore decided that we would engage with Gartner to help. Gartner, for those of you not in the know, is the world's leading research and advisory company and gives companies the information, tools and advice they need to achieve their goals. Although working with them is not cheap, after a first intensive quarter of collaboration, the ROI seems clear already. If you haven’t worked with them, one of the smart things they’ve developed is a ‘monopoly board’, which summarises their focus areas in a logical sequence that can be used to accurately match where you are as an organisation and what the related issues may be. Given our situation at MAL, we started with the following focus areas:
• Market research
• Competitive intelligence
• Product strategy
• Segmentation and positioning
The first questions we wanted to answer were “which use cases are the best fit for our current and future capability and where can we be most successful”? The starting point for this is to review the use case prisms Gartner has compiled for most of the major sectors. Their analysts work together to compile use cases where Artificial Intelligence can make a difference. These are evaluated in terms of both their feasibility and impact. This enabled us to quickly discount several sectors and refine a long list down to 10 potential use cases. It also became clear to us that MAL’s ability to offer a single solution that includes video diagnostics and observations together with predictive analytics is going to provide the key to our product strategy, value provided and competitive differentiation going forward.
With Artificial Intelligence (and most other software categories for that matter), it’s not just about the technical capability of the software. Success also requires significant domain expertise – you have to understand the customers’ market as well as they do. This includes where the market is going and why and also having a clear and well considered point of view on the issues. For this reason, we decided to confirm Healthcare as an initial sector focus, given that we have strong internal expertise and can credibly interact with healthcare experts. In particular, our priority focus is on AI enabled diagnostic interpretation services.
The result of this initial work is a focus on Healthcare as a specific sector and on specific use cases within the sector, together with a broader and potentially cross sector focus on intelligent video analytics.
Next steps include a thorough review of competitors using one of the many templates on offer from Gartner. It’s often the case that software vendors have only very basic information on their direct competitors. By using a rigorous template, we can be sure that we have a clear and objective view of the competitive landscape. One of the benefits of Gartner membership is unlimited access to analysts. As long as you have the need and the time, there’
s an analyst available to help. We have a number of sessions set up for analysts to review our revised marketing collateral as we refine this to reflect our renewed focus and associated messages. Believe me, they don’t hold back with their critique!
Once that’s done, we’ll move onto the next section of the monopoly board which focuses on go-to-market, demand generation and sales effectiveness. In the medium term, we have an objective to be awarded “Cool Vendor” status and if things go well, there’s always a magic quadrant to aspire to.
Through working with Gartner, we have been able to find some focus in the busy and complicated world of Artificial Intelligence. From choosing our most important use cases to understanding our buyers and competitors, we have been able to gain a huge number of valuable insights in a comparatively short amount of time. This has been vital for MAL as a smaller company, as we have been able to use our business resources efficiently. As COO, I feel that we have made some very important steps forward and the future for MAL is very promising indeed.