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Wired for Innovation PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Brunnen   
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:38

Wired for InnovationI first encountered Erik Brynjolfsson’s research in the early 1990’s when looking for support for the concept of ‘Collaborative Advantage’ as an antidote to the previous decade’s business (and political) culture of extreme competitiveness and independence which seemed to many at that time as somewhat lacking in recognition of the complexities of ecosystems and interdependencies.

At the same time I was battling to understand the accountancy approaches to IT investment which seemed incapable of recognising anything other than narrowly-defined costs and quite unable (despite the empirical evidence) to countenance the notion of providing one’s suppliers or customers with the facilities for improving transactional flows.

So it was joy to discover that buried deep in the intellectual hot-house of MIT/Sloan was a researcher with an extraordinary facility for shining a light on the mysteries of IT investment.

‘Wired for Innovation’ is a slim volume but, like a fine-dining experience, it is packed full of intense flavour.  Perhaps a better analogy would be a very upmarket travel guide because it essentially provides business leaders and students with navigation through the complexities of IT’s contribution to economic growth, the business practices that enhance productivity and the need for new ways of measuring value.

Each chapter includes pointers to further reading and, as you would expect of rigorous researchers, the bibliography will leave diligent students with few excuses for not getting to grips with the subject – even to the point of identifying ‘frontier’ research opportunities for those who want take the work forward.

Two key concepts, ‘Organizational Capital’ and ‘Consumer Surplus’ are well-covered and the entire work is readable, thought-provoking and likely to be found hugely encouraging for those battling for innovation against incumbent mindsets.

This book is not however a manifesto for technological purists but argues for braver, bolder and more-imaginative application.  The authors conclude that, ‘… the most important limits we face will not be technological.  Instead, the bottleneck will be our ability to understand how to use the technology, and thus the highest returns will go to those who are best able to widen that bottleneck.’ 


'Wired For Innovation' – Brynjolfsson & Saunders MIT - ISBN 0-262-01366-5 - published  16th October 2009.  More details.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 October 2009 20:16

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