The Davids of the Technology Landscape
Extrapolating from Malcolm Gladwell’s Interpretation of David and Goliath
Giants are not as strong and powerful as they seem. And sometimes the shepherd boy has a sling in his pocket.
- Malcolm Gladwell
The very brilliant Malcolm Gladwell made history with his book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants when he presented the entire story of David and Goliath from a completely fresh and logical perspective. David and Goliath is everybody’s all-time favourite story about the underdog succeeding despite all the odds pointing in favour of the powerful giant. But Gladwell smartly analyzed every aspect of this story and came up with a mind-boggling conclusion. David, one of the world’s most loved underdogs, was not an underdog at all. He had two critical advantages that made him the stronger than Goliath, the super giant. What were these advantages? Can this theory be extended to underdogs in every other aspect of life? What about examples from our technology landscape?
Let’s dig a little deeper into this amazing concept of the underdogs being the actual game-changers, shall we?
The two critical advantages of the underdog, David
Gladwell highlights a keyword while describing the duel between David and Goliath. He explains David’s victory over Goliath was not some fluke event that occurred despite David being much smaller and choosing a weak weapon, the sling. David fought this battle with smart strategy the two so-called weaknesses were actually the reasons why he won the battle. Gladwell backs his observation with some solid logic – David’s small size and the sling as his choice of weapon point to his focus on being agile and fast in this battle. Hence, the brand “underdogs” always have critical advantages on their side that helps them win against the Goliaths, although the latter are powerful. Gladwell uses many case examples and scenarios in the book to substantiate his theory – and quite convincingly so.
We often misunderstand the strengths of our competitors in any landscape – we think that the giants are strong for many reasons, but we fail to research well enough to determine what their weak points are or to evaluate whether their strong points are indeed reasons for their weakness too. We also often underestimate our strong points in a competitive landscape, failing to capitalize on them right at the outset.
Extending David the “underdog’s” lessons to the technology-driven business landscape
The message is clear – whether you are an entrepreneur, SME, or a first-time start-up, you need to reassess you perceived weaknesses and see if they are actually brilliant trump cards that will help you make history in your competitive landscape. You may actually have a hidden technology, the smart sling, that can catapult you to success. Let’s look at some examples.
One of the primary hurdles that start-up entrepreneurs and SMEs such as Altascio face in today’s competitive and digitally driven landscape is the need to match the pace of digital transformation that the Goliaths of the ecosystem have already defined. In addition, the Davids of the landscape also compete to gain the attention of the same target audience, trying to match up with the experience they are already receiving from the Goliaths. But, if we are to extend Gladwell’s observation to this scenario, the Davids really have quite a bit of an advantage here.
The key here is to think sharp and focus on one niche area rather than try to boil the ocean all at once. The unique concept of RedBus, which revolutionized the entire process of booking bus tickets online, is a typical example of focusing on a niche area and creating a solution that solves a specific pain point. The result was the roaring success of RedBus with Ibibo acquiring it for more than 100 million dollars! They did not always have the elaborate resources or capital that the leaders of the travel vertical enjoyed, but they used smart technology focusing only on the specific area of bus ticket booking. This was their biggest success.
Find the blind spot and focus on this area
Despite all the technological advances, the industry still has plenty of loopholes and blind spots that need to be corrected. An astute entrepreneurial move would be to research your landscape and find these blind spots and work out a solution that fixes the specific problem. But most important, don’t share the details with the Goliaths, else you might lose your edge! Practo, a healthcare technology company, is a great example. This technology company focuses on one solving critical pain point in care delivery – enabling easy access to doctors and other care providers, providing all information about them, recording performance feedback, and enabling appointment booking. Practo’s aim is to simplify access to care in terms of accessing doctors for consultation, pharmacies for medicine, or medical records for reference. The company has smartly identified this weak link in care delivery and fine-tuned this aspect through technology.
Reinvent and recharge
Well, not everyone can become Netflix, but we can definitely emulate their approach to stardom. A simple portal that enabled renting and selling DVDs, Netflix made a well-calculated move to a video streaming service, a unique online service and an idea that critics were quite unsure about. But what an intelligent change of brand positioning that was and what a timing, considering the fact that customers in today’s world prefer the subscription model of engagement over any other format.
Do not ignore your data
Small or large, every company is surrounded in data, and when not leveraged properly, this data can even drown all your efforts and investments. Your ability to capture, cleanup, analyze, and package data into insights pretty much defines how agile you are. This data helps you determine what your customers are looking for, where they are, how you are currently faring, and what changes you need to make to deliver on expectations. Use data-driven forecasts, patterns, and other insights to determine the smart way ahead. Spotify, the kings of on-demand online music services, trust their extensive data analytics capabilities, which are key contributors to their meteoric rise in the competitive music industry.
Leverage the power of technology to be the powerful Davids of today’s competitive landscape
In this era of digital transformation, the power of technology cannot be overlooked; hence, focusing on specific new-age technologies such as robotics, other AI-driven technologies, augmented reality, IoT, and other similar innovations can easily give you a lion’s share of your focus market. Combine it with smart focus on niche areas, unique business concepts, specific pain points, and efficient data management, and you will easily be the genius David who can give the Goliaths quite a run for their money.
Credits to http://altascio.com/