Archive for the 'Book Review' Category

What To Do , When Machines Do Everything – Book Review

The 4th Industrial Revolution is around for the last couple of years – fueled by Data in place of Oil – and Artificial Intelligence [ AI ]. AI has become the all-pervasive driving force affecting the various institutions that drive the global economy and our lives in general. AI has moved out from the preserves of sci-fi movies and ‘futurism’ to our daily chores  whether in the form of Internet of Things [ IoT ] , smart phones, assisted driving, e-commerce or even in our preferences , choices or mood swings. The serious apprehension of jobs disappearing fast and efforts to re-design them are real . This has affected the corporate business models in all industry verticals -defense,  finance , stock trading, travel, logistics, space missions, communications, infrastructure , health care , medical diagnostics,and education.

It is very timely that three senior executives of Cognizant [] , No 17 in Fortune Future List , competing in the digital landscape as a global leader in business and technology [ Revenue at $ 13.49 billion per 2016 annual report] , have come out with a book titled ” What To Do , When Machines Do Everything – a very valuable  field guide for practitioners all over the world. The authors , Malcolm Frank , Executive Vice President , Strategy and Marketing , Paul Roehrig , Vice President -Strategy and Marketing in Cognizant’s Digital Business and founder of the Cognizant Center for the future of work and Ben Pring who leads the Center for the future of work , three thought leaders collectively bring to the table vast practical knowledge of many years of relevant experience in this field.

The book proposes an action plan to industry leaders at all levels , providing  valuable rules of thumb, insights and guidelines to thrive in the new era of intelligent machines.

The 12 Chapters deal with the impact of Machine Learning and AI in today’s job design and Corporate Strategy and Business Models and propose a 5 part business model with the acronym AHEAD – Automate – Halo- Enhance- Abundance – Discovery . AUTOMATE denotes the need to outsource all rote and computational work to machines, HALO talks about the need to instrument products and people and leverage the data exhaust they create – the Code Halos , ENHANCE works to treat the computer as a colleague that can increase your job, productivity and satisfaction , ABUNDANCE covers the opportunity to open new markets as a result of the man-machine collaboration , and DISCOVERY tell us how to leverage AI to conceive new products, services and new industry through Innovation at the velocity and scale of AI combined with R&D .

Chapter 1 introduces the topic and the proposed business model AHEAD treating AI as Systems of Intelligence , Chapter 2 explains how we can turn about the feared ‘Stall ‘ scenario to one of Growth by understanding the new machine and situating it in the right business models , Chapter 3 tell us how to get AHEAD with the new model at the time of ‘Churn’  in the existing business , Chapter 4 explains the new machine  in detail terming the Systems of Intelligence as a Software that learns with a massive hardware processing power coupled intelligently with huge amounts of data and human inputs.

Chapter 5 talks about the new raw material – Data [ Data is the new Oil ] and how we can leverage business analytics to turn the data into meaning . Chapter 6 to 11  explains the business model AHEAD in detail cautioning how to avoid the various traps on the way, to treat Automation as a means to an end, to instrument everything and change the game when dealing with Code Halos , treat winning with Data as the No 1 competitive game in nearly every business , how to amplify human performance with the new machine  and  double down on being more human to allow us to focus on what we do well [ empathy , relationship building and making sense of complex situations] , and find 10x opportunities with the new machine. Chapter 11 advocates for fresh ideas through a process of Discovery to manage Innovation for the Digital Economy. Chapter 12 summarizes the key learning and calls for Action at all levels.

There are three prevalent views on AI , the Dystopian – we should fear our pending robot overlords , the Utopian – everything is awesome and technology will be the answer , and the Pragmatists – the future can be good if we make smart ,practical decisions. The authors side with the Pragmatists and tell us to go out and invent the future,and not predicting it , hand in hand with the new machines.

The book is well researched and eminently readable with a number of live  case studies from many industry verticals and fills in a need for a practitioner’s field guide on AI .

Pages 235 , Published by John Wiley and Sons,New Jersey , Price $28 in USA , Copyright 2017 by Cognizant Technology Solutions U.S Corporation.

Inside Apple – Beyond Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs has been an Icon when alive and brought up the legendary IT Product Company ” Apple ”   from an idea to an IT Behemoth over a period of 15 years to become the World’s largest IT Company in 2011 , shortly before he passed away on 5th November 2011, one day after the launch of iPhone4S .

While the end of Steve Jobs was expected for some time due to his prolonged illness , the market was full of speculations about the fate of the 360 Billion Dollar Company after he leaves the scene . The enigma called Steve Jobs cannot be replaced , according to some analysts and they predicted a doom spiral lurking around the corridors of Apple .

Steve Jobs did not follow any of the well known Management and Leadership covenants when alive , and in fact , he broke many of them to good measure but achieved spectacular results all the same . Many called him a narcissist , dictator , maverick , egoist and proud to the extent of a publicity maniac .

It was in this context that Adam Lashinsky of Fortune magazine wrote and published his well researched book titled -Inside Apple  – The Secrets Behind the Past and Future Success of Steve Jobs’s Iconic Brand , recently this year [John Murray – ISBN 978 1 84854 744 5 ] . The publisher rightly labels this seminal work as a deep dive into one unique company , the lessons about Jobs, leadership , product design and marketing .

While Steve Jobs is not with Apple any more  , his entrepreneurial spirit and the resultant enduring ” Apple Magic ” will keep the organization not only afloat but but will grow the company , let us hope ,  from strength to strength using an excellent integration and blending of Art and Technology with unique product development and marketing strategies for years to come .

The book is a ” Must Read ” for all Leadership Practitioners and Business community .

The Winning Way

Anita and Harsha Bhogle have published a great book titled ” The Winning Way -Learnings from Sport for Managers” . I  really enjoyed reading through the pages especially the parallels through live examples from sports to corporate work.

Harsha has been working with cricket players and cricket for more than two decades  globally and his personal encounters helped him getting into the minds of some of the greatest among them  during his interactions both on the arena and in the dressing room. The insights coming out of such dialogue are invaluable to both sportsmen and corporate leaders.

The book is eminently readable and has captured the spirit of sportsmanship both during crisis and winning situations over the last 20 years or so.The chapters on the Winning Triangle – Ability , Attitude and Passion ,The Burden of Winning and  Team Building give invaluable lessons to Corporate Managers and Leaders.

I would strongly recommend this book to all our Leaders and Managers in the Corporate World .

Publisher -Westland Ltd , Chennai , ISBN 978-93-80658-32-2  . Cover Price Rs 200/-

CATS – The Nine Lives of Innovation

It is said that curiosity killed the CAT .  But have you ever seen one die of Curiosity ? – Asks Stephen C . Lundin , Ph.D.  the author of the recently published book titled  ” CATS  The Nine Lives of Innovation ”  .  The cover also states the core theme of the book ” Companies don’ t Innovate . People do . ”  Lundin ,  coauthor of the famous fun [serious fun] book ” FISH ! ” has done it again . While Fish dealt with the theme  ” work place as a fun place  ”  , CATS  The Nine Lives of Innovation  deals with the topic  Innovation from a ”  CAT ‘s eye view  ” , explaining how to get  every employee – no matter what level –  to think and act in innovative ways .

IDEO in the US is well known as the Innovation factory and we have authors like Tom Kelley of  IDEO [ The Art of Innovation ] , Tony Buzan [ Mind Mapping  ] and  Edward de Bono who is credited with many books  on Lateral Thinking as a tool for Creativity and Innovation . However , Lundin ‘ s book stands out as a unique contribution  in demystifying   Innovation both at work and at the personal level  initiating the reader through a simple step by step process  through the Four Basic  Challenges of Innovation [ Distractions , Normal , Failure  and Leadership ] followed by the Nine Lives of Innovation , creating a friendly environment , preparation , know innovation isn’ t normal , welcoming physical – social and intellectual provocation ,  fascination ,  failing early and failing well and using Wranglers  to provide leadership with natural energy .

Part 2 of the book deals with sustaining a CAT ‘s life of Innovation through a personal review  with a taxonomy for Personal Innovation . The icing on the cake is the open invitation to earn CAT belts in Innovation by working with  <> .

A highly readable book cum work book  both for the uninitiated and the expert in Innovation   ,  this book grows on you as you go through the chapters and the simple exercises  laced with CAT pauses and CAT nips . Believe me I faced many Eureka moments while reading the book and I could come out with a few innovative solutions at work and at home  which  I never thought I will be capable of .  I strongly recommend this book for all potential CATS !!

References – CATS  The Nine Lives of Innovation by Stephen C .Lundin , Ph.D ., published in India in 2009 by Tata  McGraw -Hill  , ISBN – 13 :978-0-07-067097-6.