I read a good book over Christmas break, The Digital Transformation Playbook, by David Rogers. This is a good book because it has both theory and practice, plenty of research and real-life examples, and practical “how to” guides.
Just when you’re thinking, “oh yeah, when has that ever happened?” Rogers comes up with an example. Many of the these include commentary from the people who worked on them. It’s clear that the professor gets out of his classroom for a fair amount of consulting.
Digital transformation is not about technology – it is about strategy and new ways of thinking.
Most books like this focus on digital native startups. That’s the sexy stuff and, in fact, where I have most of my experience. I chose this book for its focus on digital transformation, in existing companies and hidebound industries (like auto retail).
The book is organized around five strategic themes: customer networks, platform marketing, upgrading your value proposition, data as an asset, and innovation through experimentation.
I did grow a little impatient with Rogers’ incessant enumerating: five core behaviors, four value templates, three variables, two trajectories (and a partridge in a pear tree) but I appreciated the effort to boil everything down to a foolproof recipe. There are a number of these:
- Customer Network Strategy Generator
- Platform Business Model Map
- Value Train Analysis
- Data Value Generator
- Experimental Design Templates
- Value Proposition Roadmap
- Disruptive Business Model Map
- Disruptive Response Planner
- Digital Transformation Self-Assessment
I was even inspired to start making value train diagrams of our business, and platform model maps:
On the theory side, Rogers reexamines familiar models from people like Drucker and Levitt. He shows, for instance, that Christensen’s theory of “digital disruption” is a special case, and broadens it.
By the way, this discussion of digital disruption is one of the most lucid (hype-free) that I have read. As usual, there is a checklist: analyze three features and choose one of six strategies. If that doesn’t work then, yes, you’re disrupted. Time to update your resume.
I read all the time, though I don’t often write book reviews (here is the last one) so Rogers’ fifteen-page bibliography was an extra treat. That should keep my Kindle stoked for a while.