Pivot or Perish: How Netflix’s Pivot to Streaming Holds Urgent Lessons for Your Business’s Speed of AI Adoption 

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September 29, 2023

Netflix's Pivot from DVDs to Streaming Offers a Cautionary Tale

Netflix shipped its last DVD by mail today.

The recent announcement that Netflix would be retiring its iconic DVD-by-mail service on September 29th marks the end of an era. For many of us, those little red envelopes introduced the convenience of on-demand entertainment.

But for your business, Netflix's transition from DVDs to streaming provides an important case study on when and how to embrace new technologies.

Embracing New Tech Requires Making Major Bets

Just as Netflix pivoted from DVDs to streaming, you need to make major bets right now on AI adoption in your workplace.

The parallels between Netflix in 2011 and your company now are striking. AI is advancing exponentially, and failure to adopt it means your business is extremely likely to face the fate of Blockbuster and other laggards.

Back in 2011, Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix at the time, saw the writing on the wall and made a bold move into streaming despite skepticism. For Netflix, DVDs had been its core revenue driver, bringing in $3.2 billion that year. Yet Hastings realized streaming was the future. Splitting the company risked short-term losses, but he was confident that it would ensure long-term success.

His bet paid off big time, as this chart from Statista shows:

Infographic: No Room for Nostalgia: Netflix Ejects DVD Business | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

In 2022, Netflix pulled in $31.5 billion solely from streaming. DVDs, once its cash cow, contributed less than 0.5% despite dominating just years earlier.

Hastings' fears were well-founded - companies clinging to old tech face extinction. 

Just look at Blockbuster.

AI is Advancing Exponentially - Fail to Adopt it and Risk Extinction

Today, AI poses a similar crossroads for your business.

AI development is advancing exponentially, transforming everything from healthcare to transportation, and certainly all phases of marketing in virtually every sector. Soon AI will power entire industries.

Yet your company continues relying on legacy systems, lagging in adopting AI's potential.

This puts your business at great risk.

Early adopters of AI will gain a tremendous and likely permanent advantage over competitors. Its capabilities can unlock new revenue streams while compressing time and cutting costs.

Companies integrating AI will dominate their markets. Laggards will struggle to compete and risk literal extinction.

Your choice as a business owner now mirrors Netflix's dilemma in 2011: Remain loyal to legacy systems or make the disruptive leap into a ubiquitous technology?

Choose wrong and your company is toast.

As Hastings wrote, "Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly."

For Netflix, going all-in on streaming early allowed it to capture first-mover advantages and build an enormous content library and subscriber base way before its rivals. The same possibilities await your business if you quickly integrate AI systems and lead your field.

But the window of opportunity is closing fast.

AI adoption is accelerating exponentially across industries seemingly overnight. Waiting too long risks falling irrevocably behind.

For some companies, now may already be too late - just as 2011 was too late for Blockbuster to catch Netflix.

Act Now Before the AI Window Slams Shut on Your Business

The time to act is immediately. The technology, itself, makes it accelerate its own speed of improvement and growth.

Of course, adopting new tech involves short-term risks and costs, as Netflix's transition shows.

But these pale compared to the existential risks of failing to adapt. Netflix demonstrated courage and vision in choosing streaming over DVDs despite doubts. 

Your executives need similar leadership now to transition to AI.

The demise of Netflix's iconic DVD service provides a cautionary tale for your business navigating today's AI revolution.

Clinging to old systems risks your company going the way of Blockbuster.

Early AI adopters will capture the advantages.

The time to act is now - before the opportunity disappears entirely. Reed Hastings saw the future in 2011. For your business to survive, your leaders need to follow his example today.

Don’t push the snooze button on this one. There will be no do-overs.