The Good And The Bad Of Positioning Around AI

AI is the buzzword of the moment. As the the hype gets greater and greater, it becomes challenging to sort through the noise.  Let me help you out with that.

There are three kinds of companies using the term AI in their positioning.

First are those companies that say “we are an AI company” — but what they really mean is, they are looking to better the perception of their brand even though they may not quite yet understand what problem they’re looking to solve.  These are the companies that feed the hype machine looking for a quick buck. It could be too early to know what they want to be doing, or they could be simply trying to push forward and find their true calling.  In either case, these are companies that need more time to gestate before being ready for prime time.

Then there are the companies that have identified a problem to solve and are looking at AI as a means to an end.  In most cases these companies are aware that AI is but one of the tools in the toolbox.  These companies are more mature.  They have forged an identity that is not tied to AI, but is instead tied to the problems they’re looking to solve for their clients.  These are the kinds of companies you want to partner with, because they are focused on a specific challenge and partnership can be clearly beneficial to both parties.  



Third, we have companies that have been around for a long time and are simply latching onto AI as a means of pivoting once again, trying to find a way to survive.  These companies have likely had many different positions in their market, but are now coming to a tipping point, searching for a way to differentiate themselves and continue to move forward.  You can identify these companies by going back and looking at how they’ve spoken about themselves in the past.  I personally am wary of these types of companies because their identity is not really solidified.  

I obviously prefer the kinds of companies that look at AI as a means to an end rather than as the core of their identity.  AI is an evolution in computing and a step toward automation.  It really isn’t anything new, but it will be universally helpful over the coming years.  

At least in the next few years, AI shouldn’t really replace jobs as much as take on some responsibilities people have held, enabling them to do other things — hopefully, more important things — with their time.

I also would be wary of companies whose entire identity is based on AI because there is going to be an inevitable backlash against AI in the next few years.  It’s a great buzzword and it’s an amazing tool, but people like Elon Musk are fueling the fires of negativity and the masses are listening.  It can be used to increase the perception of value, but it’s not a strong foundation for any consumer-led effort.  

What are your thoughts on AI?

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