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Over one billion people are on it. While its future is still uncertain, it is already impacting most businesses, transforming journalism, and raising broad societal issues in its wake. 

But its most valuable lesson is being largely overlooked. If companies would step back and look at its history, it underscores three strategic insights that could transform a business.

I’m talking, of course, of Facebook’s video service, Facebook Live.

Facebook Live allows users to share live video streams and host them for future viewing … of weddings, talking head rants, and (unfortunately) crimes. The latter use has garnered the most press and forced the company to hire an army of video police to take down inappropriate clips.

But I think the most insightful lesson from the service emerges by looking at how it came to be.

Facebook was worried. Engagement was waning among a critical demographic, young urban kids. They were looking for ways to win them over again.

Facebook experiments, constantly. One service they were experimenting with was video. They had offered a limited test of a beta video service and were meeting to review the results. CEO Mark Zuckerberg was there, and as the team reviewed the findings, it became clear they were on to something potentially significant. In the test markets the video service significantly improved engagement – more users, more times, more posts. And the impact was particularly activated among the core demographic Facebook was worrying they were losing.

So Zuckerberg made a decision. The company would need to pivot. He handpicked 100 developers, plucked them from their roles, and put them in a big space, cordoned off. They would work nonstop to develop Facebook’s new video service.

What would have easily taken another company a year to develop, the Facebook team achieved in just three months. They were first to market, which in technology can mean the difference between 80% market share and 5%.

Most companies cannot move quickly enough and so miss those unexpected 80% market share opportunities because they fail at three critical junctions:

  1. Experimenting: Facebook would never have had the data that led to their insight if they were not ALREADY experimenting with video. Most companies only experiment AFTER they have some insight that tells them an idea has potential.
  2. Being aware of your weaknesses: Facebook knew it was failing with a critical demographic. They understood this demographic to be important. Few companies are willing to truly understand and admit their weaknesses or are unable to identify those that are truly critical.
  3. Taking action: When experimentation (point 1) met an insight that addressed a weakness (point 2), Facebook was able to act quickly. Companies that take two weeks to set up a meeting with five people – as is the case with so many large and small – are acting too slowly.

Are you doing what it takes to own the 80% opportunity, to be the first, to act ahead of your peers? Ask yourself:

  1. Are you experimenting today on, say, 5-20 initiatives that you are not yet sure are good ideas?
  2. Are you honestly aware of your top 3-5 strategic issues and opportunities? Is everyone in the company aware of them?

Can you assemble a team tomorrow (or better yet today) with the size to have the information and the authority to make a decision?

“8Ps” of StrategyOpportunity
for Disruption
Recommended Leverage Points
Position- The farmers, individual and corporate, that you are targeting.

- The need of the agricultural industry that you seek to fill.
3- What technologies do you control that can help you tap into market
segments that you previously thought unreachable?

- What are the potential business alliances you could think about with key players in the segment to serve your customers with integrated solutions? (Serving customers with more integrated solutions example: serving farmers with fertilizers, crop protection and other).
Product- The products you offer, and the characteristics that affect their value to customers.

- The technology you develop for producing those products.
8- What moves are your organization taking to implement Big Data and analytics to your operations? What IoT and blockchain applications can you use?

- What tools and technology could you utilize or develop to improve food quality, traceability, and

- How can you develop a more sustainable production model to accommodate constraints on arable

- What is the future business model needed to serve new differentiated products to your customers?
Promotion- How you connect with farmers and consumers across a variety of locations and industries.
- How to make consumers, producers, and other stakeholders aware of your products and services.
8- How are you connecting your product with individual and corporate farms who could utilize it?
- How could you anticipate market and customer needs to make customers interested in accessing your differentiated products?
PriceHow consumers and other members of the agricultural supply chain pay for access to agricultural products.7- What elements of value comprise your pricing? How do each of those elements satisfy the varying needs of your customers?
Placement- How food products reach consumers. How the technologies, data, and services reach stakeholders in the supply chain.9- What new paths might exist for helping consumers access the food they desire?
- How are you adapting your operations and supply chain to accommodate consumers’ desire for proximity to the food they eat?
- How could you anticipate customer expectation to make products more
accessible to customers/agile supply chain?
- Have you considered urbanization as a part of your growth strategy?
- How your food satisfies the needs and desires of your customer.
- How the services you provide to agribusiness fulfill their needs.
9- Where does your food rate on a taste, appearance, and freshness
- Could the services you provide to companies and farms in the agriculture industry be expanded to meet more needs?
- What senses does your food affect besides hunger? How does your
customer extract value from your food in addition to consumption?
Processes- Guiding your food production operations in a manner cognizant of social pressure.8- How can you manage the supply chain differently to improve traceability and reduce waste?
- How can you innovate systems in production, processing, storing, shipping, retailing, etc.?
- What are new capabilities to increase sustainability (impact on the environment, or ESG) components?
People- The choices you make regarding hiring, organizing, and incentivizing your people and your culture.- How are you leveraging the agricultural experience of your staff bottom-up to achieve your vision?
- How do you anticipate new organizational capabilities needed to perform your future strategy (innovation, exponential technologies needed, agile customer relationship, innovative supply chain)?
- How do you manage your talents to assure suitable development with exposure in the agrifood main challenges/allowing a more sustainable view of the opportunities/cross-sectors?