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How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition

Information technology is revolutionizing products. Once composed solely of mechanical and electrical parts, products have become complex systems that combine hardware, sensors, data storage, microprocessors, software, and connectivity in myriad ways. These smart, connected products – made possible by vast improvements in processing power and device miniaturization and by the network benefits of ubiquitous wireless connectivity – have unleashed a new era of competition. Smart, connected products offer exponentially expanding opportunities for new functionality, far greater reliability, much higher product utilization, and capabilities that cut across and transcend traditional product boundaries. The changing nature of products is also disrupting value chains, forcing companies to rethink and retool nearly everything they do internally. Smart, connected products raise a broad set of new strategic choices for companies about how value is created and captured, how to work with traditional partners and what new partnerships will be required, and how to secure competitive advantage as the new capabilities reshape industry boundaries. For many firms, smart, connected products will force the fundamental question: What business am I in? This article provides a framework for developing strategy and achieving competitive advantage in a smart, connected world.

Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning

Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris explain how many successful organizations are using data creatively to beat the competition. High-performance businesses are now building their competitive strategies around data-driven insights that are, in turn, generating impressive business results. Their secret weapon? Analytics: sophisticated quantitative and statistical analysis and predictive modeling supported by powerful information technology and data-savvy senior leaders. Exemplars of analytics are using new tools to identify their most profitable customers and offer them the right price, to accelerate product innovation, to optimize supply chains, and to identify the true drivers of financial performance. A wealth of examples—from organizations as diverse as Amazon, Barclay’s, Capital One, Harrah’s, Procter & Gamble, Wachovia and the Boston Red Sox—illuminate how to leverage the power of analytics.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

“The best way to understand the dramatic transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life,” writes Malcolm Gladwell, “is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.” Although anyone familiar with the theory of memetics will recognize this concept, Gladwell’s The Tipping Point has quite a few interesting twists on the subject. For example, Paul Revere was able to galvanize the forces of resistance so effectively in part because he was what Gladwell calls a “Connector”: he knew just about everybody, particularly the revolutionary leaders in each of the towns that he rode through. But Revere “wasn’t just the man with the biggest Rolodex in colonial Boston,” he was also a “Maven” who gathered extensive information about the British. He knew what was going on and he knew exactly whom to tell. The phenomenon continues to this day–think of how often you’ve received information in an e-mail message that had been forwarded at least half a dozen times before reaching you. Gladwell develops these and other concepts (such as the “stickiness” of ideas or the effect of population size on information dispersal) through simple, clear explanations and entertainingly illustrative anecdotes, such as comparing the pedagogical methods of Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues, or explaining why it would be even easier to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with the actor Rod Steiger. Although some readers may find the transitional passages between chapters hold their hands a little too tightly, and Gladwell’s closing invocation of the possibilities of social engineering sketchy, even chilling, The Tipping Point is one of the most effective books on science for a general audience in ages. It seems inevitable that “tipping point,” like “future shock” or “chaos theory,” will soon become one of those ideas that everybody knows–or at least knows by name. –Ron Hogan Book Description: This celebrated New York Times bestsellernow poised to reach an even wider audience in paperbackis a book that is changing the way North Americans think about selling products and disseminating ideas. Gladwells new afterword to this edition describes how readers can constructively apply the tipping point principle in their own lives and work. Widely hailed as an important work that offers not only a road map to business success but also a profoundly encouraging approach to solving social problems.

The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More

“The Long Tail” is a powerful new force in our economy: the rise of the niche. As the cost of reaching consumers drops dramatically, our markets are shifting from a one-size-fits-all model of mass appeal to one of unlimited variety for unique tastes. From supermarket shelves to advertising agencies, the ability to offer vast choice is changing everything, and causing us to rethink where our markets lie and how to get to them. Unlimited selection is revealing truths about what consumers want and how they want to get it, from DVDs at Netflix to songs on iTunes to advertising on Google. However, this is not just a virtue of online marketplaces; it is an example of an entirely new economic model for business, one that is just beginning to show its power. After a century of obsessing over the few products at the head of the demand curve, the new economics of distribution allow us to turn our focus to the many more products in the tail, which collectively can create a new market as big as the one we already know. The Long Tail is really about the economics of abundance. New efficiencies in distribution, manufacturing, and marketing are essentially resetting the definition of whats commercially viable across the board. If the 20th century was about hits, the 21st will be equally about niches.

Everything is Miscellaneous

Human beings are information omnivores: we are constantly collecting, labeling, and organizing data. But today, the shift from the physical to the digital is mixing, burning, and ripping our lives apart. In the past, everything had its one place–the physical world demanded it–but now everything has its places: multiple categories, multiple shelves. Simply put, everything is suddenly miscellaneous. In Everything Is Miscellaneous, David Weinberger charts the new principles of digital order that are remaking business, education, politics, science, and culture. In his rollicking tour of the rise of the miscellaneous, he examines why the Dewey decimal system is stretched to the breaking point, how Rand McNally decides what information not to include in a physical map (and why Google Earth is winning that battle), how Staples stores emulate online shopping to increase sales, why your children’s teachers will stop having them memorize facts, and how the shift to digital music stands as the model for the future in virtually every industry. Finally, he shows how by “going miscellaneous,” anyone can reap rewards from the deluge of information in modern work and life. From A to Z, Everything Is Miscellaneous will completely reshape the way you think–and what you know–about the world.

Seeing What’s Next: Using the Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change

When a disruptive innovation is launched, it changes the entire industry and every firm operating within in This book argues that it is possible to predict which companies will win and which will lose in a specific situation—and provides a practical framework for doing so. Most books on innovation—including Christensen’s previous two books—approached innovation from the inside-out, showing firms how they can create innovations inside their own companies. This book is written from an “outside-in” perspective, showing how executives, investors, and analysts can assess the impact of a new innovation on the firms they have a vested interest in.