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|VOLUME 26 • NUMBER 1 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2002|
Next Wave Consulting, Inc.
As a new year begins,
I thought it useful to look at the shape of ebusiness, so two books cover
a range of topics on that ever-changing subject. I also look at a book
to improve your writing skills and a guide to international business resources.
The Digital Enterprise: How to Reshape Your Business for a Connected World
edited by Nicholas G. Carr
This book is a collection of highly relevant articles published in the Harvard Business Review over the past couple of years. The editor has sorted them into three sections: Remodeling Business, Remaking Markets, and Reimagining Management.
No matter what your business, you will find these articles thought-provoking. While specific companies are used as examples, the point is the analysis and discussion, not the specifics. The authors are trying to get you to think "out-of-the-box" and focus on how the new technologies are shaping the way business gets done. This applies whether you are in an academic library or a corporate setting. We all need to question business as usual.
The first section contains five articles that help you examine your business model. The ideas presented include: the notion that companies really have just three kinds of businesses—attracting customers, developing products or services, and operations; suggestions on how syndication can expand your business and help you to partner; and thoughts on discovering where value lies in a networked environment.
Section two looks at ecommerce and the effects of the market shakedown. A particularly interesting article suggests that hypermediation will be the trend of the future, not disintermediation. As services proliferate, users will need additional help to find the answers they seek.
The final section gives ideas for new ways of managing. As markets change, so must management. The articles focus particularly on managing disruptive change—events that change your entire business environment. Several different strategies for adaptive management are presented.
As we head into
a new year, this book is worth reading to help open your eyes to new ways
of thinking about your organization, your customers, and your products.
E-Writing: 21st-Century Tools for Effective Communication
by Dianna Booher
This is the book that you wish anyone who writes to you will read. More than just a stylistic guide, or a discussion of the differences between electronic and print writing, this book provides solid advice for how to communicate in any medium, and is written by a communications expert who's already contributed 24 books to the field.
Only a small segment is devoted specifically to the electronic media, with chapters on communicating via email and the Web. However, the premise is that clear, concise writing is welcome anywhere, so the author focuses on the basics of getting your point across in different situations. The author introduces her trademarked "MADE format" for encouraging the writer to present information in the order of message, action, details, and evidence.
As one would hope in such a book, the author's style is eminently readable. I particularly liked her descriptions of business writing styles using examples of "stuffed-shirt style" writing and "t-shirt style" writing, and suggesting that the best business style is a direct style in-between these two.
A large part of the book focuses on editing—editing for content, editing for style, and editing for grammar. It's been years since I actually tried to recall the precise rules of creating grammatically correct sentences. A refresher course no doubt would do everyone good.
This book is not
aimed at novelists or even columnists. It is for those who need to communicate
every day through email, reports, briefings, white papers, and memos. It
presents terrific guidelines for getting your point across, in a clear,
concise, and relatively painless way.
Pushing the Digital Frontier: Insights into the Changing Landscape of E-Business
edited by Nirmal Pal and Judith M. Ray
Books on the shape and scope of ebusiness abound, but this one presents the issues in a much broader sense than most. Not only are standard business strategies and procedures discussed, but regulatory and governmental issues related to ecommerce, and the human resource aspects of digital commerce are also included. This is one of the benefits of having different authors for each chapter—expert coverage of diverse topics. The downside is that the flow of the book is quite uneven.
This book developed from a workshop sponsored by Penn State's eBusiness Research Center, with which the authors are affiliated. The goal was to provide "an overarching framework for conceptualizing research into, and the development of, ebusiness." The chapters are designed to guide you through the world of ebusiness, covering such topics as organizational change, leveraging old-world and new-world assets, managing human and technical resources,personalization, collaboration, and egovernment.
Short case studies and anecdotes are liberally used throughout to illustrate the authors' points. Several familiar company stories are presented in a new light, with my favorite being the Encyclopedia Britannica study that focused on human resources.
If you want a book
that presents a wide range of issues in not very much depth, this is the
one to choose. However, there are many references at the end of each chapter
to provide more in-depth information on each topic. This book is a good
choice for those looking for a concise overview of where the digital frontier
was last year, and to use that knowledge in a back-to-basics approach to
the digital commerce environment today.
International Business Information on the Web
by Sheri R. Lanza, edited by Barbara Quint
There is a wide range of international business information available on the Web, and this book tries to guide you to the best sites for different regions or countries of the world. It developed from a series of articles in Searcher magazine, and could undoubtedly expand into even more books focusing on specific regions.
The book is organized by regions, starting with a world view and then honing in on different regions. The first chapter is a mystery, spanning all of four pages and describing sources for U.S. company information. It could have easily been left out. Chapter two covers many global sources, including a list of foreign embassies in the U.S. Throughout the book, there are lists of resources, which are then repeated in the Appendix. It seems to me that if a resource is listed in the front of the book, it should have some sort of description associated with it, no matter how brief. Since all of the resources are listed in the Appendix, also organized by chapter, it seems a huge waste of space to list them twice. If you are going to list all the resources within the text of the book, then at least organize the Appendices in a different way, to add some value. For instance, the list of embassies is in the "world" chapter, so they are not listed in the chapter or appendix about the country or region to which they apply.
Each region of the world gets 20-40 pages. This is not nearly enough space to do justice to all the sorts of information available, especially if you want annotations. However, it is a great start to get you looking in the right direction for information. Writing and maintaining the links for this sort of directory is a Herculean task (the links are maintained online). The book is a good start, but I would have liked to see more descriptions and analysis and fewer repetitive lists.
Deborah Lynne Wiley (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Principal of Next Wave Consulting, Inc.
Comments? Email the editor at email@example.com.