btripp_books (btripp_books) wrote,

Great info ... for corporate execs

Occasionally I read a book because I figure “it will do me good” … sometimes these are classics that somehow fell through the cracks in my education, sometimes they're things that “might be useful” in a career setting. This is one of the latter sort. Frankly, this came to me sort of out-of-the-blue from Wiley (alert to FTC nanny-state overlords: this was a review copy provided to me without charge) and it really didn't “fit” with most of my reading. However, when looking it over, it seemed like it might be one of those books that I'd be better for having read, so I plowed into it.

Phil Simon's The Next Wave of Technologies: Opportunities in Chaos is not what one would call a “fun” book, and it's not even a “gripping” book, but I suppose it does come in as a “useful” book as it provides current snapshots of more than a dozen “technologies” which are likely to effect business over the next several years. The nominal author, Phil Simon, did pen parts of this, but it appears that his primary function was pulling together a team of subject experts who would each address one of the topical areas. As he notes in the introductory material, there was no way that one writer could amass sufficient knowledge across all these subjects in enough time to write an up-to-date book on them, so he assembled a group of writers who had published on each, and then edited the results into a reasonably single-toned whole.

This book also has a fairly narrowly-targeted audience:
I started thinking about the need for a book that would address the essentials, best practices, and pitfalls of these exciting new technologies. Wouldn't a book like this be beneficial to C-level executives unsure about what to do and how to do it? A busy chief information office (CIO) could read this book and walk away with a much deeper, practical understanding of these new concepts. The same CIO might walk into work the next day and ask “Why aren't we doing this?”
Yes, this is pretty much targeted towards the upper management of corporations, which each section involving a “what this is”, “how this works”, “how to implement it” structure. Needless to say, the “casual reader” (myself included) is likely left a bit in the dust of concerns focused on the C-Suites.

Also, the quote above illustrates one of my main peeves with this book, most terms get spelled out with their acronym once, and if that particular usage didn't quite sink in while reading past it, a lot of sections read more like a football huddle call than a lucid discussion. Yes, if one flipped back to the Index you could find out what a particular set of letters meant, but there are dozens of these throughout the book, and their systematic usage (frequently saving a fairly minimal number of characters over actually spelling out what was being discussed!) was, to me at least, an on-going source of irritation.

Anyway, here's what's covered in The Next Wave of Technologies: Cloud Computing, Open Source, Software as Service, Service-Oriented Architecture, Managing Mobile Business, Social Networking, Enterprise Search and Retrieval, Enterprise 2.0 Business Intelligence, Master Data Management, Procure-to-Pay, Agile Software Development, Enterprise Risk Management, Global Engineering, plus sections on Project Failure, Sustainability and “Green” business, implementing projects within an organization, etc. I must admit, that with one or two exceptions, none of these were things I had a burning desire to know about, but at least now, were I to find myself in a conversation which was inexplicably floating off towards “Enterprise Risk Management”, I'll now be able to muster more than an incredulous blank stare.

Obviously, this is not a book for everyone, but if you're in its target audience, I'm sure you will find this an informative and wide-ranging look at subjects in which you, too, might not have a solid background. Another factor making this an “elite” book is its rather remarkably high cover price … sixty bucks! I guess “corporate library” books get the same sort of mark-up that textbooks usually come with. Fortunately, “the magic of the marketplace” is already in play here, with Amazon having it at a 37% discount (for a still-hefty $37.80) and their new/used vendors having this “new” for as little as just over twenty dollars. I suppose if one is CIO of Pretty Big Corp. Inc., shelling out the cover price wouldn't be an issue, but for the rest of us who might find this sort of an overview useful, it's nice to know there are alternatives!

Again, this is hardly a book for “everybody”, but it's a quality study of the current state of a wide array of technologies and technologically-oriented trends within the context of how they'd impact business. If one is within those fairly tightly-set crosshairs, this would certainly be a recommended read, but for the rest of the population, it's probably not stuff about which you have any particular need to know.

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