Innovate or die – cool stuff nobody wants

A highly publicized artificial intelligence company had burned through its initial investment and realized they had no marketable products. The board, dominated by those early investors, was growing impatient and decided to bring in a Transformation Advisor.

It’s difficult to miss discussions of artificial intelligence these days, even in the popular media. The premise is that, while artificial intelligence has been around for decades, it’s just becoming practical.

The Advisor was an experienced software industry executive. The company felt they had developed very innovative technology and was staffed with brilliant PhD’s from leading universities. The Advisor quickly determined the company misunderstood the basic definition of innovation. Innovation does not occur through the development of interesting new technology. Innovation occurs when that technology is made and turns into a commercial success. This company was caught in a trap, like so many technology startups fall into. That is, developing products of interest by the developers that ultimately may not be of interest to customers. The Advisor had several extended sessions with all key members of the company to explore in more detail what made the technology unique, and why they felt it had commercial potential. Then several industry experts with extensive knowledge of relevant markets were brought in to meet with the team. Out of these discussions, unmet market needs were addressed, and new features were built into their technology. There was some disappointment by the development team since the application was not considered to be an artificial intelligence product. Nevertheless, with significant potential customer input, a new product was developed and launched within six months. The product became and continued to be the leader in that niche. A permanent CEO with experience in the space was hired. A few years later the company was successfully sold to a larger technology firm.