Book Review: Converge – Transforming Business at the Intersection of Marketing and Technology, by Bob Lord and Ray Velez, 2013, Wiley.
This is a slightly longer book review than I normally do since the topic of the book is relevant to parts of my coverage area, and also a hot topic for many parts of Gartner.
If you are an avid reader of books touting how IT enables innovation, transformation, or paradigm shifts, you’ll probably put this on your shelf. The CEO and CTO of Razorfish capture most of the current thinking around how technology is changing the face of marketing. There is much to like in the book. The authors rightly focus on trends related to “markets of one” (nod to Jeff Woods, formally of Gartner, now SAP) that imply a massive shift in approaches to brand management and marketing strategies. There is also an effective dialog about agile, and how agile marketing is in fact the key point. Long gone are static models and approaches; the call is for a more active, dynamic marketing strategy – across a collection of agencies and skill providers. There is some good background on what holds many firms back (e.g. silos and the wrong metrics) but there are gaps that are not filled – a talk about single version of the customer but noting about how this is achieved (Master Data Management). For IT geeks in marketing, the book includes a write up of all the latest concepts, from the South Korean “shopping wall” (versus shopping mall) to personal devices increasing the amount of data about us that marketers could use.
The sections on cloud overstep the mark. The speed and benefit of attributed to “cloud” should properly be attributed to (commoditized) ubiquitous CPU and processing capability coupled with innovative, unique service concepts (what Razorfish seeks to add). Cloud – whatever that is meant to mean, does not provide innovation on tap. The section on agile methodology is excellent; and the section on change management is predictable.
Some other topics are not new at all – and better handled in other books. Some of my favorites are:
- Brand management: Corporate Religion, Kunde, Prentice Hall, 2000
- Product platform strategy (over product strategy): The Power of Product Platforms: Building Value and Cost Leadership, Meyer & Lehnerd, Free Press, 1997; Product Strategy for High-Technology Companies, McGrath, McGraw Hill, 1995
There are also gaps in the book. The topic covered is fast changing – at Gartner we strive to remain on top of all things IT so publishing a book (itself a legacy concept?) brings relevancy risks. In the section on big data, there is no reference to the growing challenge of governance and the shift “from truth to trust”. In the sections on ubiquitous computing and the quantified self (talk with my colleague Frank Buytendijk on this), there is too much hype about the fledgling tools and technologies mentioned– many of themhave numerous stability, maintenance and reliability issues in the field. Just go to the vendor sites and read their community blogs.
Overall a good, reasonably up to date view on what the Chief Digital Officer should be thinking about. But readers need to read this quick, keep it as a reference, and get onto the latest Gartner research on the topic. My colleage Yvonne Genovese is leading uor thinking on this new role. Recommended 8 out of 10.