March 12, 2011

"Do You Have a Disruptive Product that Already Exists in Your Business? Ask These 3 Questions..." John Wolf: COO @ Knowlagent

Name: John Wolf
Company: Knowlagent
Position: COO

Situation: Knowlagent sells two products bundled in one package -- a training curriculum for call center employees and a proprietary technology that creates efficiencies by delivering this training to the employees during idle periods; essentially automatically managing "active wait time".

Challenge: What is disruptive about Knowlagent's product? What is Knowlagent's core competency?

Solution: Knowlagent recognized that its customers partner with them primarily for their patented "RightTime" technology. Moreover, many customers already have their own training curriculum that they prefer to use instead of adopting new material from Knowlagent.

Takeaway: Knowlagent's all-in-one, complete solution has in some ways distracted them from focusing on the disruptive value of their patented technology. You might have a disruptive product that already exists within your business, but you haven't identified it and/or parlayed it into a disruptive force. How can you determine if you do? Follow these steps:

1. What do you sell? Break out the product and/or service into its multiple facets.

2. Why do your customers buy your product or utilize your service?

3. How would your customers rank these reasons (from Question 2) in order of importance?

The #1 reason provided to you by your customers in response to Question 3 is likely your core competency and your best chance to deliver a disruptive product to the market.

You might be thinking that this will only work for a company with a patented technology like RightTime in its stable of products. Here are a few examples of non-tech companies who used the above questions to identify their core competency which also turned out to be a disruptive force in their industry:

McDonald's -- significantly reduced the cost and wait time for burgers, fries and shakes. Result: disrupted the market.

Wal-mart -- significantly reduced the cost of household products, and increased convenience to buy. Result: disrupted the market.

Pixar -- tells great stories. Don't think this is an appropriate example? Pixar has won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature 6 of the last 8 years, and 4 in a row since 2007. In addition, Pixar has 5 of the top 12 highest grossing animated films of all time, with Toy Story 3 #1 on the list. Result: disrupted the market.

What do you do best? What is your greatest value add to a customer? Don't only focus on being great at doing what you do best; focus on identifying ways to parlay that strength into a reinvented product or service that can disrupt a market. Don't settle for being the best; aim to disrupt!

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