Digital Disciplines: Attaining Market Leadership via the Cloud, Big Data, Social, Mobile, and the Internet of Things; Joe Weinman; John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ, 2015, 400pp.
A recognized authority on cloud economics and business value (he’s cloud economics editor for IEEE Cloud Computing Magazine), Weinman argues that the true value of digital technologies lies in creating market-leading strategies that deliver unparalleled customer value.
To this end, he lays out four generic strategies for attaining “competitive advantage, marketplace success, and strong financials while creating unique customer value.” These strategies, or disciplines, are information excellence; solution leadership that connects smart, digital products and services to the cloud; collective intimacy that leverages big data analytics; and accelerated (i.e., faster, cheaper and better) innovation that extends open innovation to a new level.
These four disciplines, Weinman explains, build on the value disciplines originally defined by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema in their 1995 bestseller, The Discipline of Market Leaders. By implementing Weinman’s four, he writes, “IT can galvanize strategy, drive customer value, maximize competitive differentiation, help attain market leadership, and create wealth… In short, the digital disciplines are where digital technology meets value disciplines—the foundations of today’s and tomorrow’s strategies—and could be just what you need to help your company attain market leadership.”
You can preview the book via “Digital Technologies and Competitive Advantage,” Weinman’s interview with Research-Technology Management editor-in-chief Jim Euchner (RTM Nov-Dec 2015, pp.12-16). Weinman opens that discussion by stating his basic point: “That new technologies have made it important to think differently about business.”
Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations; Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone; HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY, 2015, 281 pp.
Veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur/publisher Karlgaard and technology writer Malone offer a research-based guide to the planning, design and management of high-performing “Genius” teams. Their purpose: “to bring together both the best practices of today and the past, with the latest in scientific research, to show the next generation of leaders in every field how to build the dynamic, robust, and great teams they will need in order to compete in this new world.”
They begin by introducing “twenty questions you ought to be asking about the teams you manage and those to which you belong,” starting with, “Is your organization, and the teams that compose it, up to the challenges they face in a hypercompetitive global environment?”
Four imperatives every leader should recognize follow, beginning with, “your teams must be capable of surviving whatever today’s brutal economy throws in their path.”
Asserting the need “to find the genius that resides in great teams” by developing “a new science of teams,” the authors extract solutions to essential leadership questions from scientific research and case studies of powerful pairs (think Starbucks coffee) and plutonium-like trios (e.g., the San Francisco 49ers between 1985 and 1995 and Bell Labs’ transistor inventors.)
Among many “new truths” they present:
- The right team is usually one fewer person than managers want.
- How to die is the biggest question good teams face, not how to succeed.
- Why “magic sizes” for teams are 7 (± 2), 150 and 1,500 people.
Their book concludes with a great question for readers: “Why wouldn’t we want to create and be part of teams of genius?”
“Strategy, Not Technology, Drives Digital Transformation: Becoming a Digitally Mature Enterprise”; Gerald C. Kane et al; MIT Sloan Management Review; July 2015.
The 2015 Digital Business Global Executive Study and Research Project by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte identifies strategy, not technology, as the key driver of success in the digital arena.
Company leaders, the report stresses, need to recognize that risk-taking is becoming a cultural norm and that people of all ages want to work for businesses that are deeply committed to digital progress.
Only 15% of the study respondents said their organizations had a clear and coherent digital strategy whereas 80% from more digitally mature companies said their firms did. The study defines a digital mature organization as one where “digital has transformed processes, talent engagement and business models.”
- Digital strategies in the most mature organizations are developed with an eye on transforming the business.
- Digitally maturing organizations are four times more likely to provide employees with needed skills than are organizations at lower ends of the spectrum.
- Across age groups from 22 to 60, the vast majority of respondents want to work for digitally enabled organizations.
- Leaders as well as employees must embrace failure as a prerequisite for success.
- Maturing organizations are nearly twice as likely as less digitally mature entities to have a single person or group leading the effort.
“The Booms and Busts of Molecular Electronics”; Kevin F. Kelly and Cyrus C.M. Mody; IEEE Spectrum Oct. 2015, pp. 53-60.”
This is another of Spectrum’s instructive reports on how industrial science and innovation actually happens. Kevin Kelly chairs the applied physics program at Rice University, in Houston, and Cyrus Mody is a historian of science, technology, and innovation at Maastrict University, the Netherlands.
Their account begins 40 years ago when graduate student Arieh Aviram opened his Ph.D. dissertation with a “bold” proposal to substitute single organic molecules for silicon transistors and diodes. In a paper written with his thesis advisor “Aviram even described a theoretical starting point for such a revolution—a ‘molecular rectifier’ for converting alternating current to direct current.”
Kelly and Mody trace the subsequent roller coaster ride of molecular electronics to tangible results that while far from the original dream of molecular computers “demonstrate that the pursuit of even impossible dreams can spur important discoveries.”
2014 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) U.S. Report; Donna Kelley et al; Babson College and Baruch College; Sept. 2015; 55pp.
Twenty-four million Americans, or 14 percent of the population, report being entrepreneurs, according to this annual survey report by professors from Babson and Baruch Colleges. This is the highest number ever recorded in the United States.
The study, conducted since 1999, defines entrepreneurship as businesses younger that 3.5 years. It records entrepreneurs’ profiles, motivations, and business characteristics while documenting the societal attitudes that often shape entrepreneurial success. Among the findings:
- Six percent of the U.S. working population launch businesses within organizations, indicating that entrepreneurship in start-ups coexists with entrepreneurship in organizations.
- Although single individuals start slightly more than half of ventures in the U.S., almost half of ventures founded by three or more people are in the business service sector.
- Thirty-seven percent of entrepreneurs state they have products or services that are new to some or all customers and offered by no or few competitors.
- For the first time since GEM has tracked entrepreneurship, than half the U.S. population (51%) believes there are good opportunities for starting businesses.
- Fear of failure edged downward to 30%, after reaching a high of 32% in 2012.
- Women’s entrepreneurship in the U.S. is among the highest (11%) in developed economies.
“An executive’s guide to the Internet of Things”; Jacques Bughin, Michael Chui, and James Manyika; McKinsey & Co. Insights & Publications, Aug. 2015.
“IoT will soon become a differentiating factor in competition,” warn these McKinsey executives in presenting six things they want senior leaders and board members to know. Their article elaborates on:
- “Core fact: business-to-business applications will account for 70 percent of the value that we estimate will flow from IoT in the next ten years.
- “Most of the new business value will arise from optimizing operations.
- “IoT can also spur new business models that would shift competitive dynamics within industries.
- “IoT will challenge traditional organizational roles as information technology becomes widely embedded across assets.
- “Different IoT systems will be required to communicate with one another and to integrate data.
- “The prospect of implementing the Internet of Things should prompt even greater concern about cybersecurity among executives.”
“Good design is good business”; Hugo Sarrazin; McKinsey & Co.
Insights & Publications; Oct. 2015.
Hugo Sarrazin, a director in McKinsey’s Silicon Valley office, interviews Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers design partner John Maeda about why senior executives must understand design.
Maeda explains his definition of design and proceeds to why he believes it should be a C-suite concern, the dangers of excessive expectations, how he measures a good vs. bad design, and the challenges of applying design thinking in a large company.
“Enabling Entrepreneurial Ecosystems”; Philip Auerswald; Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Oct. 2015.
This research paper by a George Mason University associate professor applies lessons from ecology to the building of vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems. “The paper raises questions and provides practical advice about the best way to encourage entrepreneurship, which is crucial to the growth of our economy,” said Dane Stangler, vice president of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation. “It encourages proponents of entrepreneurship to take a step back and envision a more holistic approach toward accomplishing their goals.”
Prof. Auerswald recommends six strategies to create strong entrepreneurial ecosystems: Favor incumbents less; listen to entrepreneurs; map the ecosystems to show the participants and how they are connected; think big, start small, move fast; Avoid artificially segmenting your community or your strategies; anticipate disruptions and be ready to capitalize on them.
“Making Entrepreneurship Contagious”; Linda Rottenberg and Chris Bierly; Knowledge@Wharton Oct. 20, 2015.
“No local network in which start-ups scale, scale-ups succeed and successful entrepreneurs infect the next generation with the entrepreneurship bug”: That’s the problem Linda Rottenberg and Chris Bierly identified when they looked not at Silicon Valley but at “some of the harshest terrain for innovation.”
Rottenberg is co-founder and Bierly senior advisor of Endeavor, a non-profit that develops “entrepreneurial ecosystems” around the world. They argue that the best incubator for entrepreneurship is one where entrepreneurs can form close networks and nurture other risk-takers. After reporting “lackluster results” with government- initiatives in Kuala Lumpur, Moscow and the well-known Startup Chile program, they describe more successful efforts in the “difficult markets” of Buenos Aires, Istanbul and Mexico City.
Their conclusion: “We’ve seen time and again, even in the most challenging business environments, that high-impact entrepreneurs exist in every market. The key is finding them, helping them scale and encouraging them to let the contagion spread.”