With the seemingly sudden rise of artificial intelligence as the new thing that no one saw coming ('sigh'), there are vast amounts of media reports, business theories, and plain drama that use words like "revolution," "disruption," "breakthrough," "obsolescence" or even "apocalypse." But, conveniently, very few parties take the time to explain what is at play with AI and why it's bound to be the next big unlock to create the new breed of apex predator business model.

This is what is at play:

"Digital" is a generic term that has been used broadly to point at very different things these last years...

Consider how we understood and leveraged digital as an ongoing process with key unlocks every five years or so:

Circa 2000, the big unlock was transforming brick-and-mortar business into an online one. Or, if you will, the apex predator business model of the time was transforming anything into a .com. Later, when the ones that survived this transition scale understood they could push the logic further, they started removing intermediaries, verticalizing their value chain around their brand. The apex predator business model was all about being a "pure player" fully committed to online with as less friction as possible to your operations.

Around 2010, the logic was pushed even further, and a solid grasp of digital network effects in various modes allowed a selected few to get to a step beyond. The GAFAMs became thoroughly dominant, leveraging their immense digital scale by sustaining a critical mass of transactions and customer interactions that would be the ultimate moat.

And as it starts to be painfully apparent to a larger part of economic actors now, the last breed of apex predator business model began to evolve a few years ago with new unlocks in artificial intelligence technology. The new end game? Being able to predict everything a customer wants (and will want) in real-time. If Microsoft with ChatGPT is currently the most visible predator, it's just the first to step in and try to take a large bite of incumbent platforms ('cough'Google'cough').

Whether you are in offensive or defensive mode, understanding these logics are mandatory to survive the next few years. If you don't push deeper than current big consulting firms' reports, you might believe that the ongoing revolution is about search or chatbots. It's absolutely not. It's about how digital has evolved and how business models are changing forever.

PS. If you want some comic relief about where this is going, I'd suggest watching Ronny Chieng's take on Amazon Prime. 😅

The illustration of this article is an extract from one of our online executive trainings on "digital" and innovation strategy that we've been running since 2020. Contact us to try them out.

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