Level-headed advice for companies contemplating a leap into the digital arena.

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THE NETWORK IS YOUR CUSTOMER

5 STRATEGIES TO THRIVE IN A DIGITAL AGE

Rogers (Center on Global Brand Leadership/Columbia Business School; co-editor, Handbook on Brand and Experience Management, 2009, etc.) presents a guide to how businesses and other organizations can use emerging digital technologies to reach customers.

Customers are changing, writes the author. They were once isolated and passive, relying on a one-way flow of information from the mass media. Now they interact and share on the Internet (Facebook, YouTube, etc.), where their videos, review, and campaigns can reach millions and have profound impacts, both positive and negative, on companies. Rogers focuses not so much on the digital technologies as on the behaviors of connected customers, what they value and what they will pay for. Based on interviews with executives at companies that are applying innovative thinking to customer networks, the author identifies five key network behaviors of today’s customers: the desire to access (everything and now), engage (content relevant to their needs), customize (choose from an array of information, products and services), connect (share ideas and opinions) and collaborate (on collective projects). The examples clearly show the possible benefits of network strategies. Dell used its “Idea Storm” website to attract 10,000 new product ideas from customers; Kraft Foods created an iPhone application featuring thousands of recipes made with Kraft products and charged customers for the app (selling more than 1 million copies); author Stephenie Meyer built an early cult following for her vampire novels by reaching out to fans in online communities; and Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign gave millions of supporters online tools to raise funds, register voters and organize for caucuses. Such strategies, writes the author, can be used to achieve diverse business objectives, including product differentiation, speed to market, effective sales channels, reduced costs for customer service, customer loyalty and word of mouth, brand awareness among hard-to-reach target segments, customer insight, expanded innovation resources and improved knowledge management.

Level-headed advice for companies contemplating a leap into the digital arena.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-300-16587-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2010

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

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EDISON

One of history’s most prolific inventors receives his due from one of the world’s greatest biographers.

Pulitzer and National Book Award winner Morris (This Living Hand and Other Essays, 2012, etc.), who died this year, agrees that Thomas Edison (1847-1931) almost certainly said, “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” and few readers of this outstanding biography will doubt that he was the quintessential workaholic. Raised in a middle-class Michigan family, Edison displayed an obsessive entrepreneurial spirit from childhood. As an adolescent, he ran a thriving business selling food and newspapers on a local railroad. Learning Morse code, he spent the Civil War as a telegrapher, impressing colleagues with his speed and superiors with his ability to improve the equipment. In 1870, he opened his own shop to produce inventions to order. By 1876, he had money to build a large laboratory in New Jersey, possibly the world’s first industrial research facility. Never a loner, Edison hired talented people to assist him. The dazzling results included the first commercially successful light bulb for which, Morris reminds readers, he invented the entire system: dynamo, wires, transformers, connections, and switches. Critics proclaim that Edison’s innovations (motion pictures, fluoroscope, rechargeable batteries, mimeograph, etc.) were merely improvements on others’ work, but this is mostly a matter of sour grapes. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone was a clunky, short-range device until it added Edison’s carbon microphone. And his phonograph flabbergasted everyone. Humans had been making images long before Daguerre, but no one had ever reproduced sound. Morris rivetingly describes the personalities, business details, and practical uses of Edison’s inventions as well as the massive technical details of years of research and trial and error for both his triumphs and his failures. For no obvious reason, the author writes in reverse chronological order, beginning in 1920, with each of the seven following chapters backtracking a decade. It may not satisfy all readers, but it works.

Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9311-0

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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