For example, when we rolled out in 2014, there were a ton of ways to apply AI to social media management. Our customers were constantly coming to us, asking for new and different features based on the ways they were using social media. After a while, we realized that we simply couldn’t keep up. We needed a larger solution.
That led us to rethink the way we were delivering our service and how it was being used. The answer was simple and elegant, but required a true disruption in our business model. Rather than wait to hear about what users wanted next, we decided to put control into their hands with a new tool called Ember. Essentially, it’s a technology that works behind the scenes to analyze user activities and “learn” what their needs are. Over time, they can use Ember to define their own parameters, and have the program respond when it sees special tweets, tweets from certain people, or those in a particular language or with a strong sentiment, etc.
We disrupted ourselves into new and unexpected work, but we’re delivering more value to our customers and, at the end of the day, that’s our goal.
While customers can help you scale barriers, they can also create inspiration that takes your mission further than you might have thought possible. It may seem difficult, but finding ways to listen to every customer can have benefits you might otherwise miss. In our case, one comment changed our entire vision.
While we get hundreds of tweets every day, one really stood out for us. In the summer of 2015, two aircraft went missing at one time in the state of Washington. We didn’t realize it, but our tools helped first responders in a way we hadn’t envisioned:
While the original concept of Meshfire was to enable users to better manage their social media and help marketers reach new customers, after we saw that comment, we realized that we were having an impact we hadn’t counted on and that our vision could be bigger. That one tweet led us to refocus on our larger mission of getting the most critical social media information to the right people at the right time. We decided to push harder on accuracy and speed, and we’ve maintained that focus to this day.
So, if you find that your business is “stuck,” turn to your customers. They can teach you lessons in disruption that you won’t learn anywhere else.