Digital Transformation, books to consider

In short digital is going to impact your business. distruption        I do not care if you are a diner, a bank, a doctor or a farmer.

There is right now more than one set of individuals building a business to steal your customers by showing them there is a NEW way to satisfy the need/want your business is currently satisfying.

thinking of customer    Thinking of your customer, why do they buy your product or service is key to digital.  You are not selling them a safe place to keep their money or to rid them of pain.  You are lowering their anxiety in a convenient manner to their individual perception of both.

I get this wrong all the time. I asked a question the other day of a very smart group of people.

What would they want the person to lead them to bring to the table?

I had surmised beforehand the answers would be either specific technology skills on cloud, analytics, security or devops and/or deep experience on implementing technologies in their niche industry.


resolute-plaque-c2009   Stability.

They wanted to have someone who can come in an manage upwards to provide a path they could work to and deliver so they could feel successful.

What does your customer today need/want from you?  How can you find out?

What can you do/change to convince a brand new customer that you can satisfy their need/want that is NOT what you do today?

The books – 

Digital lipstick on a pig – Vaasa S. Gavarasana   lipstick

A quick read though too high level.  Key points are to –

  • focus on all the interactions with the customer/consumer  Cusomer-knows-what-he-wants
    • sales of course
    • customer service
    • account receivable
    • marketing
    • IT for EDI and compliance
    • operations for special orders/customizations

I would add if you are more distribution focused to add a vendor focus to reduce cost and increase agility.

To do this change you need –

  • A star trek bridge – aka a focused group – not just IT, like a startup business in the business
  • Good basic analytics, but add to it the digital/non-digital connections so everyone sees them
  • A Winston Churchill – well for any change you need Churchill – aka an evangelist.   churchill
    • Being a bit wacky cannot hurt in my opinion.




Digital Disruption – James McQuivey   d disruption

A longer read and focused on being controversial (scare the begegus out of you) versus a guide.

Key points –

  • The power of digital disruption is that it can disrupt any aspect of any product or service
  • Processes that are deep within companies or physical things that govern partnerships, data collection, pricing and management of resources
  • Even non-digital business will be disrupted
  • Digital disruption answers the question – what if it did not take money to make money?
  • digital disrupter default answer is yes – meaning yes, we can do that to whatever the questions is.  I truly believe this with technology today
  • How can we give customers something they really want?
  • To be successful test how ready you are with energy, skills and policies
  • Ask the question will my company’s relationship with our customers will be stronger in 5 years?
  • Again start with the customer, accept failures failure                 and look at the total customer experience

Digital Uncovered – Ian Cox      uncovered

The most guide like of the three, but uses OLD case studies of Blockbuster, Borders and so on.  Gets to more modern cases later in the book and likes to quote Forrester and the like which to me has always been like using The Farmer’s Almanac for planning your vacation.  forecast    If it is right great, but you don’t get to file a claim to recoup your vacation cost from Farmer’s if it rains all week.

Stated that most businesses surveyed state digital transformation will impact their industry in three years.  Three bloody years.  Makes you feel like you are already missing the bus.  bus           Relax – not yet.

Once again – start with the customer, move quickly, take risks and be prepared to fail.

The best definition I have read/heard so far – Digital is enabling people, devices and/or machines to connect and interact (transact business) with each other from any location and at any time.   anywhere

Seven truths, eh.

  1. Customers are in chargein charge
  2. Markets move quickly
  3. Data is a valuable asset
  4. Disruption can happen anywhere
  5. There are NO boundaries
  6. Ecosystems and platforms are key
  7. Technology is fundamental

Okay, 4 and 5, are the same as well as 6 and 7.  So let’s say 5 truths.  truth













Book Review: Building Internet of Things

So next up on book reviews is Building the Internet of Things by Maciej Kranz.  First anything that starts with ‘beyond the hype’ to me sounds like a person starting a sentence with ‘trust me, this will work’.

IoT has the same aura around it that the Internet did back in the nineties.  Lots of hype, tons of articles, events and the line of business people are asking –

Are we doing this?

When are we doing this?

Why are we NOT doing this?

Should we be doing this?do-this-not-that

As such, I would recommend skipping that first chapter and go right to chapter two as it hits upon the power of IoT to help you answer some of those questions or just jump to No, no we should not be doing this – yet.

Use the book as a reference to help you ask the right questions both of your line of business and for those 30 vendors calling you on a monthly basis offering to help you with IoT.  This Forbes article is a good brief and the language is more LOB focused talking about manufacturers managing maintenance downtime and expense related to that versus IoT devices, storage and analytics.

In that it provides a benefit.  But, it does not live up to its title.  This will not help you build the internet of things.  Because to leverage IoT the focus is on business process improvement and innovating new customer facing services.

As such, if your business is not ready to transform business processes or is eagerly open to leverage technology for new customer services you will be wasting your time.

This book will help you develop the questions around your business processes to either generate that eagerness bring awareness to the line of business that IoT is not a cure, but component that can optimize process steps that were considered impossible to remove inefficient profit robbing steps.

Beyond the Fitbit, the NEST thermostat their are real business solutions in manufacturing, healthcare, energy and retail industries.

Working it purely as a business problem solution design will help you find the REAL solutions and avoid the hyped.  

Book review: BlockChain

Blockchain, blockchain blockchain-consensus  I first heard this term back in 2014 related to bitcoin.  Then again in 2016 with some legal firms looking to it in Europe as a future for transactional data.  Then when I saw the IBM Watson announcement with blockchain, I was like hmmm need to learn more.

So, I went and got Richard Hayen’s book and read it.  Then reread whole sections of it.


Then put it down and picked it up again and realized – nope it is not me the book is not written well.  Sorry Mr. Hayen, if your Fintech book is as poor explaining a topic I will pass. Consider a couple of analogies and you know graphics.


Blockchain does have a future, it is a new way to store and validate transactional data, but most importantly share that data with customers and partners.  The most understandable chapter is 6 – Arguments against Blockchain…  That ‘opening a window for cybercriminals’ definitely a concern, but still understand where blockchain could be revolutionary change in business models that require partnerships across commodities, borders and languages.

I have this infographic more helpful – just sayin…


Book Review – Super Crunchers

Author Ian Ayres

Not the fastest reads as the author and the many people he sites like to use their university vocabulary.  I met the author at a speaking event where he spoke of the book and with a number of others I received a signed copy.  While the book held my interest, he is a much better speaker.  If you have the chance catch him giving a talk.  1 supercrunchersIn short, this book explains the use of number crunching can dramatically improve everything from medical to marketing successes.  It does focus on the fact based decision making versus intuition and past experience alone, which the book and frankly my experience is a major culture change for the majority of businesses.

–       Keeping an Eye Out for Chance on page 69  1 math

  • Along with analytical insights from crunching numbers that exist, the tools available today allow experiments to be run to quickly determine a successful course of action.

–       Follow the herd versus evidence based tactics on page 89

  • Regardless of level of education and experience we develop biases and that will drive our decisions.
  • Using evidence based information systems corrects for bias.

–       An average of 17 years for new knowledge generated to be put into practice on page 91

  • In the medical field, it can take that long for a new discovery to become procedural due to habits and bias.

–       1 cokeCoke-can predication on page 114

  • We can predict that a coke can will spurt if shaken and that is how we often rely on a experts opinion.  We treat their knowledge like it is absolute, yet have they continued to refine it, add to it and question their own expertise?

–       But What if it’s Wrong on page 184

  • The culture of the current day super crunchers are different than the ‘older’ analyst, they like their social media they share everything, publishing the data.     1 y generation share

Is this book for everyone, no, I recommend mainly for Chief Information Officers and Marketing Officers.  Like I said above definitely try and hear Ayres speak.

Book Review – The Deciding Factor Book Review – The Deciding Factor

  Author Larry Rosenberger and John Nash




As I focus more on analytics in my professional life I have started going through the major analytics books.  I previously wrote about the Chief Performance Officer book, but have learned a great deal more in the past couple of months.  The Deciding Factor takes the non-tool approach to explain the power of analytics and especially power of expanding the use of analytics from the executive offices to the day-to-day operational staff to both improve their decision-making and better execute the strategy.

–       Capital One’s story of how they used analytics – page 18    

  • How impactful analytics have creating a product set and growing a boring business into an exciting marketing effort.
  • Continued with Progressive on page 21

–       Tesco’s use of analytics to define customer categories on page 41

  • No explanation here except the main categories used of time-poor, food-rich, can’t cook and won’t cook – just love these

–       Best Buy’s push analytics down to their sales force on page 47

  • Training their sales force using specific lifestyle questions to define the product sale match with the customers needs and discover up sales potential

–       Fair Isaacs chart on page 80

  • Chart displaying how to ensure that decision making with analytics to ensure the strategy executes well across all channels
  • Accomplished with a basic rules based management system

–       Work flow vs. decision flow on page 127

  • The impact of how a work flow is impacting by a decision flow and why you need both

–       The difference between business intelligence and decision management on page 141

  • In short, BI focus on how we are doing now and why and decision management builds on the why and provides options on what’s next

If you have a BI solution and are using it to improve your reporting great, but to truly power your organization greater insights move BI down into your operational staff levels and design a rules based decision making system.

Book Review – Execution, The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Author Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan

A quick read with each chapter giving you something useful to put into practice.  All too often leaders get frustrated that completion of activities is not occurring and they lash out at their teams.





I have been guilty of this action and thankfully my teams have been forthright enough to point out that I was acting like a crazed Captain Kirk asking to get 110% and to just make it so (ok that is Picard).








–       Seven essentials of execution on page 57

  • While these are built upon in the rest of the book, reminding myself quickly brings back the concepts to actually use.


–       As a leader you have to show up on page 63

  • Showing up defined as being present, not losing your attention by focusing on your smartphone, tablet or SQUIRREL!
  • Focus on the person or people in front of you.


–       New EDS Beliefs on page 91

  • Changing not the values in your business, department or team – but changing the beliefs about those values.
  • First as part of your SWOT identify the old beliefs both internal and external, and then define the new.

–       Leadership Assessment Summary on page 151

  • A simple chart to evaluate the potential and current value of your team

–       Principle of simultaneity on page 232

  • During planning session and budget development change from doing separately and start with a gathering all business leaders to set the foundation for simultaneously agreeing to direction, plans and budget allocations.









I review this book once a month to refocus my efforts when working with teams.  It offers simple reminders on focusing on priorities and facilitating the same with your teams.

Book Review – LEAN-Agile Test-Driven Development

Author Ken Pugh

Picked this book up to add to my LEAN and Agile knowledge.  A tough read as it is very reference

based, so plan on taking your time and re-reading several portions of it, especially if you do not have

experience with LEAN or Agile before.  It is effective in showing how the two methodologies can work

together and are aligned in their thinking on empowered teams and facilitating managers.

– Manifesto for Agile Software Development page xxxi

  • The principles are the focus on this page, like any list of things (aka 7 Habits – I like 4 of them), you should read through the book and come back to this page in integrate into your lean/agile process what will most benefit you.  Unless you have a scrum master, then they will beat you until you bleed to follow all of them.

–       Questions to ask you and your organization on page 23

  • Of this short list, the most important is ‘What are impediments to smaller, more frequent deliveries in your organization?”
  • Why do so many projects/initiatives focus on the big bang deliverable at the GO LIVE, instead of 10 smaller go lives that reduce risk, improve success of hitting each go live and remove stress from the humans in the effort.

–       Resource map of all projects on page 47  (too ugly to post a picture of so here is a nice picture of a frog)  

  • Yes, have either a PM or a project coordinator generate these maps, then spend 2-4 hours every two weeks updating them to keep them fresh and relevant, which works well for a consulting firm with a PMO.
  • If you are a company looking to embrace agile, well you likely do not have the bandwidth to do this effort.  I suggest in place to focus each team member on 3 priorities that are directly tied to the corporate strategy and focus weekly on activities that are impeding work on those 3 each day/week.

–       Model of Lean-Agile Software on page 237  

  • I know skipped a whole heck of a lot of pages, but if you know about LEAN, Agile, Scrum and so forth those pages are refresher and connecting the methodologies.
  • The chart at the bottom of the page is simple, but take note of the size of the boxes as I relate the amount of time you should take in training and adopting efforts for each of those boxes. Thus the most time on setting a good foundation of understanding and building acceptance.

I use this to tie my training and experience in project management, LEAN, and Agile together.  Is it something I use often, no I will not.  But, it will be something I look at when I begin a new project that is either LEAN or Agile or both.