Building a Competitive Moat in the Age of AI: Beyond Just Technology

Companies are eagerly integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into their products, hoping to gain a competitive edge. However, as AI becomes ubiquitous, it is essential to question whether simply incorporating AI is enough to create a sustainable competitive advantage. There are 4 key factors that truly differentiate a business in the age of AI:

  • expert domain knowledge
  • intellectual property
  • brand and marketing dominance
  • the crucial distinction between building technology and creating value

Domain Knowledge

Expert domain knowledge remains a critical component of building a competitive moat. By diving deep into a specific niche, such as water treatment AI (strange example, I know), companies can develop a level of expertise that is difficult for competitors to replicate. This specialized knowledge allows them to better understand and serve their target customers, providing unique value that others may overlook. Investing time and resources to become an expert in a particular field can significantly reduce competition and establish a strong competitive advantage.


Intellectual property (IP) is another crucial aspect of creating a competitive moat, but it goes beyond simply having a GitHub repository with lines of code. The value of IP lies in its difficulty to replicate. Just as writing complex code from scratch can be challenging, acquiring unique and valuable data sets can be a significant barrier for competitors. Collecting proprietary data often requires extensive effort, such as physically gathering samples, installing measuring equipment, and developing partnerships with relevant organizations. The challenges faced in acquiring this data make it a valuable asset and contribute to a company's competitive edge.

Brand and Market

Brand and marketing dominance, especially when combined with first-mover advantage, can be a powerful competitive moat. Companies like Lang Chain and OpenAI have demonstrated the impact of being the first to market with a new product or service. By captivating a large audience early on, they establish strong brand awareness and recognition. However, relying solely on first-mover advantage is not a long-term solution. Companies must quickly capitalize on their initial success and work towards developing other competitive advantages, such as unique data sets, difficult-to-acquire IP, or deep domain knowledge.

Building Tech vs. Building Value

Finally, it is crucial to understand the difference between simply building technology and creating true value. While it is easier than ever to build applications and generate code, the real challenge lies in creating technology that solves real problems and provides genuine value to users. The magic lies in how the technology is used and the impact it has on customers' lives. If a company's product is so vital that its customers would take meaningful action to save it from imploding, then it has achieved true value creation. Building a competitive moat in the age of AI requires a combination of expert domain knowledge, unique IP, strong brand presence, and a focus on creating technology that solves real problems and provides undeniable value to its users.

Justin Macorin | LinkedIn
Lead Machine Learning Engineer, Seismic

Justin is a Lead Machine Learning Engineer with Seismic, the leading global sales enablement platform. His mission is to help accelerate the adoption of AI and help engineers accelerate their development of prompt-based applications.