The best business books develop a core concept or respond to a question of compelling importance. Nicholas Evans does so in this volume, responding to two separate but related questions:
1. Which emerging and disruptive technologies will not only be the next differentiators and sources of competitive advantage but also be the next sources of solid business value for enterprise operations?
2. How to identify and exploit these technologies to design more competitive and agile companies and markets?
Evans organizes his material within nine chapters. In the first, he explains the need for enterprise innovation; in the last, be examines the current stage of the evolution of information technology and suggests what the impact of developments during the next several years may have on businesses. In between, he covers "the strategy, process, and technology aspects behind some of today's most promising emerging technologies with a focus on how to achieve real-world results that benefit the top and bottom line for an organization. One of the goals of this book is to help executives maximize their value from these technologies, to reshape their business, not just their business processes."
Readers will especially appreciate Evans' provision of a Summary and an "Extending the Radar Lessons" section at the end of Chapter 1, and then at the conclusion of each of the next eight chapters (Chapters 2- 9), provision of an "Extending the Radar Lessons" section followed by an "Extending the Radar Considerations" section. These and other reader-friendly devices offer three substantial value-added benefits: they specify key points within the given chapter and context, they suggest correlations between and among them, and they facilitate, indeed accelerate frequent review of those key points later.
I was especially interested in what Nicholas has to say about business process management in Chapter 5. He begins with an especially apt observation by W. Edwards Demming: "If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing." Presumably Deming would agree that what cannot be measured cannot be managed. (He may have been the first to make that assertion. To date, I have been unable to locate its source.) I agree with Nicholas that businesses considering integration of applications within their enterprise, or integration of applications with those of their partners, "should consider business process management as a key emerging technology, alongside Web services, which can help to deliver new forms of enterprise agility and reduction of cost and complexity." This is a key point, one which Nicholas explores with depth and precision. Readers will then welcome the "Extending the Radar Lessons" and "Extending the Radar Considerations" sections which follow.
When concluding his book, Nicholas suggests that the "first wave" of applications (i.e. essentially a force fit on top of a powerful but vulnerable framework) is now giving way to an era of combinations, one during which "killer applications are built from combinations of killer technologies, where computers can start to serve their uses rather than command their users, where information and transaction are able to move seamlessly across logical boundaries, device boundaries, and physical and virtual boundaries." Whether creating and/or responding to others' "killer applications, organizations must have a "radar" system to guide and inform their initiatives to generate revenue, reduce costs, and improve performance. The question he poses to his reader -- "How prepared is your radar?" -- serves as a challenge to all decision-makers who must understand "new rules" if their organizations are to prevail in what is undeniably a "new game."