The app economy, as many have noted, is primarily based around creating convenience, not delivering true innovation. Despite this, its impact has been profound and pervasive. Consumers have come to expect that they can manage almost every task and life activity via a smartphone.
The competitive pressures of the app economy lead inevitably to apps trying to one-up each other. Ready availability of risk capital encourages this trend.
Consider something as basic as food. We’ve seemingly solved all the issues that used to make home delivery of groceries such a daunting challenge. We then moved to meal kits, where your food ingredients come pre-measured, cleaned and chopped. From there, the move was to fully-cooked meals delivered to you via a subscription meal plan.
There is a clear trend towards task automation, often in the extreme. And this trend is migrating from the consumer world to the B2B world.
You can see the trend at work in the wonderful world of sales leads. First came software to let users better manage their prospects. Then came services to let users add or augment their prospects by seamlessly importing new names. When users discovered that their prospects names needed to be maintained and updated, services emerged for this task. When users discovered they had too many prospects to manage effectively, services emerged to rank and score these prospects. Then came “purchase intent” services that tried to turn cold leads into hot leads using automation tools. And now we see a raft of services that offer to do actual appointment setting.
For data publishers the implication is clear: your customers are finding the idea of purchasing just data less and less compelling. Providing them with tools to act on your data was the next obvious evolutionary step, and this has worked out well for most data providers. But there is a new evolutionary phase underway: task automation services that do more and more of the customers’ work for them. It’s well underway in the lead gen world, but it’s coming to your data neighborhood soon. How this plays out will vary by market and product, but the general direction is that customers will pay more to offload some of their work. And that means opportunity for those who can figure out how to take it on.