Huntsman Post

Matt Eyring, Senior Vivint Executive, Says Innovate or Die

Many companies don’t understand the need for constant innovation, and because they don’t, they are destined to fail, said Matt Eyring, an entrepreneur who has studied what has been called “disruptive innovation.”

Matt Eyring

Matt Eyring, chief strategy and innovation officer for Vivint, said companies must be focused on the needs of their customers.

Mr. Eyring, spoke at a Dean’s Convocation at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business on Oct. 2. He is the chief strategy and innovation officer for Vivint, the largest home automation company in North America, a firm that has been named one of Forbes's “Most Promising Companies for 2013.”

Mr. Eyring is a graduate of the University of Utah and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. Before coming to Vivint, Mr. Eyring worked at Innosight, a company cofounded by Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen who coined the term “disruptive innovation.”

On Christensen’s website he calls disruptive innovation “a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.” For a decade, Mr. Eyring served as the managing partner at Innosight, where he led worldwide strategy and operations, consulting with many Fortune 500 companies.

Mr. Eyring is in an industry where he sees great potential for Vivint. With more than 800,000 customers throughout North America, Vivint delivers a technology-based platform that integrates a wide range of wireless features and components for home security, energy management, home automation, and solar solutions.

Mr. Eyring said that some research predicts that three quarters of the firms listed as top companies today will no longer make such a list in 15 years. In the 1960’s that was not the case. A top-performing company then could expect to be ranked high for decades, he said. Many firms today don't last, he said.

“They get gobbled up," he said. "They go bankrupt. And those that do survive for a longer period of time, they underperform; they don’t do well.”

He said there are forces at work that make it very difficult to outperform the market. Mr. Eyring said one problem that can thwart the progress of a firm is that it can develop a good product and then focus only on finding ways to improve that product.

“The number one failure mode in large companies is a product orientation,” he said. “You become a product manager, and your job is to evolve your product. And that is patently false. Your job is to provide customer value, of which a set of integrated products and services are a part.”

He explained that companies need to focus on how they can meet the needs of their customers.

“People don’t care about your product,” he said. “They are hiring your product to get something done in their lives. They don’t want your drill, they want the hole.”

He said that many students will graduate into a business world where constant innovation will be required. In many cases, they won’t be able to analyze data from previous ventures because it won’t be available.

“The answer is not in the conference room,” he said. “The data doesn’t exist. Data can’t be analyzed for markets that don’t exist, and you guys are going to be creating markets that don’t exist.”

He said students venturing into the world of business will need to learn to test their ideas out quickly and may need to adjust their business plans multiple times.

“The experiments need to be time-limited and they need to be limited in the amount of money you spend,” he said. “The mantra should be invest little, learn a lot, fail fast, fail cheap.”

Watch Vivint executive Matt Eyring's Dean’s Convocation presentation.