How Pricing Models Impact AI Adoption: What Enterprises Need to Know 

by Treb Gatte

Lady carrying menu board

In today’s rapidly evolving AI landscape, one challenge many of our clients encounter revolves around navigating the complexities of AI pricing models. These models are pivotal for two main reasons: they ensure the cost of the service is covered, and perhaps more crucially, they play a significant role in driving customer purchases. Generally, the most prevalent AI pricing models can be likened to two familiar examples: the Netflix model and the Power Company model.  

The Netflix Approach

Let’s delve into the Netflix model first. Here, you pay a fixed monthly fee, which makes it straightforward to predict your expenses. It offers a clear perspective on the value you’re receiving, despite many of us not using the service as frequently as we think. A small fraction of users might heavily use Netflix, yet the majority tend to use it far less than anticipated. This setup allows Netflix to cover its operational costs while absorbing the risk associated with variable usage.  

The Power Company Model

On the flip side, consider your power company’s pricing approach, which charges based on the consumption of kilowatt-hours—a concept that might seem obscure to many outside the energy sector. Each month, your bill fluctuates within a certain range, with the potential for a steep increase during periods of extreme weather. This model places the risk squarely on you, the consumer, highlighting a significant contrast in how risk is allocated between the two models.  

Matching Pricing Model to Your Adoption Risk

It’s interesting to note the stage of adoption each model represents. Services like Netflix are still relatively new to the market, where reducing perceived risk is essential for attracting customers. In contrast, power companies operate within a mature market where their services are seen as indispensable, despite the inherent risks, because the value they provide is undeniable.  


A fitting example of a straightforward, user-friendly pricing model is Copilot for Office 365, which offers clarity and simplicity at $30 per month per user. This allows clients to easily understand their costs, compare these to the value received, and most importantly, plan their budgets with confidence. With Microsoft taking on the risk of any overages, clients can make purchasing decisions more swiftly, fostering a sense of trust between them and the provider. 

However, when clients are presented with pricing models reminiscent of the Power Company, involving intricate calculations like input tokens, output tokens, and computing units, the decision-making process becomes significantly prolonged. The need for detailed cost analysis and value assessment can lead to analysis paralysis, resulting in extended purchase cycles. Here, the client bears the risk of any overage, which can hinder the development of trust between the provider and the client. 

Our Recommendation

We advise our clients to carefully consider these pricing models when exploring AI technology to meet their needs. For those who are just beginning to experiment with AI, models akin to Netflix offer an appealing entry point, facilitating easier exploration and learning. On the other hand, clients with more experience in AI or those with the technical capacity to grasp the complexities of Power Company-like models may find it beneficial to explore these options further. Most are likely to gravitate to Netflix type models initially.  

Understanding these models not only aids in selecting the most appropriate AI technology but also plays a crucial role in building a successful, trust-based relationship with your technology provider. By choosing a model that aligns with your needs and risk tolerance, you can embark on your AI journey with greater confidence and clarity. 

Need Help?

If you want to discuss this further or are looking for a partner to guide you through the process, please reach out to us at

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