Goliathan Agritech Gameplays
Few musings on David and Goliath to present a consolidated view of the Big 6 Agri Input Players' Agritech Gameplays and find out who has better digital instincts.
Had you invited the legendary HBS professor Clayton Christensen (1952-2020) in his prime years to teach the Theory of Disruption to five-year-olds, I suspect he might have started his class with a modern retelling of the story of David and Goliath.
The tale is old as mountains, and yet it sounds contemporary in how warped our notions of strength are. In his book, ‘David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants’, anecdotal generalizer extraordinaire Malcolm Gladwell writes,
“Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness. And the fact of being an underdog can change people in ways that we often fail to appreciate: it can open doors and create opportunities and educate and enlighten and make possible what might otherwise have seemed unthinkable.”
As an agritech analyst, I often see giants who like to think of themselves as underdogs and underdogs who like to think of themselves as giants. For vastly different strengths, mind you.
As much as King Saul underestimates David because we often tend to (falsely) equate power with physical might, agri-input firms underestimate agritech startups because they tend to equate power with channel + sales distribution might.
Although history rhymes with several examples from corporate battlefields, because it is counter-intuitive, we often fail to see the asymmetry of power involved in challenging rules, in substituting agility and speed for strength.
When I look at agritech gameplays of the Big 6 Agri-Input Players (Bayer, UPL, Corteva, BASF, FMC, Syngenta) duelling with agritech startups to win the digital transformation game, this becomes obvious.
When I look at the Agritech Gameplays of the Big 6 Agri Input Players (Bayer, UPL, Corteva, BASF, FMC, Syngenta) in an Indian market environment, I see better digital instincts prevailing in the agritech gameplays of Syngenta and UPL.
The difference boils down to a critical distinction between strategy and plan.