Posted by Alan Nazarelli ● Wed, Apr 24, 2024 @ 11:48 AM

Only the Paranoid Survive-AI Edition



In this week's post, I want to evoke one of my favorite business books "Only the Paranoid Survive" by Andy Grove, founder of Intel. I re-read it recently, but with the filter of the AI revolution that is upon us all and in light of our ongoing customer insights that inform us on how much disruption most technology leaders are preparing for. Many of you downloaded our FireHose™ series report titled "Shift Happens" published earlier this year. First, a quick summary of the book’s main thesis and then ideas on how business leaders can apply the book’s principles today based on our research findings.

"Only the Paranoid Survive" puts forth the notion of Strategic Infection Points (I'll use the acronym SIP for brevity below), which the author defines as a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change. I think we can all agree we are undergoing a SIP today. He goes on state the following: [SIPs] can be deadly to a business if not attended to promptly and strategically. A business can begin to decline, never to return to previous greatness.

Applying this to our current AI revolution, which Andy Grove would have called a 10X change, we would add the following: 

  1. Technology leaders we have been interviewing since mid-2023 indicate being in POC stages with their AI initiatives, using the proof-of-concept implementation paradigm that has been the adoption cadence of technology such as workflow automation, cloud adoption and edge computing etc., in the last few years. This goes against the grain of SIPs. If this is truly an inflection point, then this is no time for incrementalism.
  2. Andy Grove tells us that the most dangerous competitive disruption is when your offering can be built or delivered in a different way. We would add, based on the hindsight of the internet revolution that fueled the innovation that we are all beneficiaries of, and subject to, today, that another blind spot is the elimination of intermediaries; the classic case being the overnight disappearance of the travel agency industry.
  3. There is therefore fast mover advantage to be considered, which in previous conference speaking engagements, I have described in terms of three T's:
    • Target
    • Topology
    • Technology
  4. Top customer insights and research priorities during a SIP need to emphasize:
    • Being close to customers
    • Being close to competitor's customers
    • Less closed ended, more open ended. 
    • To this end, in-depth qualitative is the answer. I know, this may amount to hearsay in our current big data driven world, but I just said it. This SIP calls for a "blank sheet" approach.
    • Step out of the old questionnaire templates to gather new "white space” insights not previously sought or considered.
    • Last but not least, exploring the insights lie at the edge of the spreadsheet versus within. In traditional data analysis, researchers tend to delete this, this is a time to do a double-click on these.

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Alans high res picture 12.19.22   Alan Nazarelli is Founder & CEO of Silicon Valley Research Group. Based in San Jose, CA with offices in Seattle and New York, the company works with the world’s most innovative brands to provide timely and actionable market intelligence and strategic guidance to enable them to make well-informed decisions to positively impact revenues and profits and to achieve their growth targets. Connect with Al on Linked in


Topics: Market Research Best Practice