Tag Archives: business books

Digital Transformation by Thomas Siebel – Here are my six lessons and takeaways

Digital Transformation“Urgent doesn’t begin to describe the insights contained in Tom Siebel’s Digital Transformation. His combination of historic perspective and an incisive approach to the specific technologies reshaping our world should be essential reading for any leader.”
Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google Inc.

Digital Transformation is the guidebook every business and government leader needs to survive and thrive in the new digital age.

But… The threat of organizational extinction is very real.


Note the four elements/drivers of digital transformation:
elastic cloud computing + big data + artificial intelligence + the internet of things


News flash:  things keep changing.

And corporations, companies, organizations, even entire industries that do not get with it may become…extinct.  That is the alarming prediction that sits at the very foundation of the book Digital Transformation:  Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction by Thomas M. Siebel.  I presented my synopsis of this book at the September First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.

Is this a good book?  Yes – quite good.  It’s not that it does a whole lot new.  But it does tie together the key pieces of what constitutes digital transformation in a particularly clear explainer.  This book will help you understand just what has changed, how the changes are accelerating, and how any entity that does not grasp and embrace such change will definitely not only be left behind, but…go extinct. In other words, this book is one great big scary warning to those leaders, and companies, who don’t get it.

Thomas Siebel knows what he is writing about.  After a career at Oracle Corporation, he pioneered the customer relationship management (CRM) category in 1993 with the founding of Siebel Systems.  And he has stayed on top of the technological changes…

In my synopses, I ask “What is the point of the book?”  Here it is for this book:  Progress is coming (in mostly wonderful ways), faster than ever. Those who embrace it and participate it will flourish. Those who ignore it, or reject it, will face extinction. Digital transformation is… here.

And I ask “Why is this book worth our time?”  Here are my three reasons for this book:
#1 – This books pulls together a number of concepts and developments into one accessible volume. It will teach you the current state of play in the world of digital transformation.
#2 – This book is a terrific technology history overview book.  It will give you the chronology of developments that brought us to where we are now.  This provides valuable reminders and knowledge.
#3 – This book is a stark, crystal clear warning – embrace digital transformation, or go extinct!

In my synopsis handouts, and presentations, I always include a number of key excerpts from the book; the “best of” Randy’s highlighted passages.  Here are a few of the ones I included in this synopsis:

From the Foreword by Condoleezza Rice: History teaches that those who take the lead in technological revolution—which today’s digital transformation most certainly is—reap the greatest rewards. The imperative to act, and to act swiftly, is clear and present.
We can now develop prediction engines. This is what digital transformation is all about. This is when the fun starts.
Every mass extinction is a new beginning.
Moore’s Law… …The exponential trend described by Moore’s Law—that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles every two years at half the cost—is appropriate. But its application underestimates evolution.
Today the telecommunications industry is dominated by over 2.5 billion smartphone users. And it hasn’t even been 20 years!
Since 2000, 52 percent of the Fortune 500 companies have either been acquired, merged, or have declared bankruptcy. …40 percent of the companies in existence today will shutter their operations in the next 10 years.
Companies that figure out how to breathe big data—how to harness the power of this new resource and extract its value by leveraging the cloud, AI, and IoT—will be the next to climb out of the data lake and master the new digital land.
“Digitization was using digital tools to automate and improve the existing way of working without really altering it fundamentally or playing the new rules of the game,” says technology strategist and veteran industry analyst Dion Hinchcliffe. Digital transformation “is a more caterpillar-to-butterfly process, moving gracefully from one way of working to an entirely new one, replacing corporate body parts and ways of functioning completely in some cases to capture far more value than was possible using low-scale, low-leverage legacy business.” Simply investing in technology to digitize existing functions and processes is not enough to truly transform a company or industry. It’s a necessary ingredient, but not sufficient. Digital transformation demands revolutionary changes to key competitive corporate processes.
And it is why digital transformation can be so frightening: Companies must shift their focus from what they know works and invest instead in alternatives they view as risky and unproven. Many companies simply refuse to believe they are facing a life-or-death situation. This is Clayton Christensen’s aptly named “Innovator’s Dilemma”: Companies fail to innovate, because it means changing the focus from what’s working to something unproven and risky.
The gap between the companies and sectors that have digitally transformed and those that have not is already wide and will increase exponentially.
In the first wave, consulting firms began helping customers build their digital presence. Then with Web 2.0, consulting firms focused on interactive design and customer experience. Today, in the current wave of digital transformation, consultancies are helping clients use data to reinvent their business models.
Five years from now, 35 percent of the important workforce skills will have changed.
As recently as 2011, the message delivered by CEOs and corporate leadership worldwide was clear: “Tom, what don’t you understand about the fact that our data will never reside in the public cloud?” The message today is equally clear and exclamatory: “Tom, understand that we have a cloud-first strategy.

Here are some of the key points from the book:

I really liked his insight flowing from the two kinds of evolution:  Darwinian evolution is a force of continuous change—a slow and unceasing accumulation of the fittest traits over vast periods of time. By contrast, punctuated equilibrium suggests that evolution occurs as a series of bursts of evolutionary change. …These bursts often occur in response to an environmental trigger and are separated by periods of evolutionary equilibrium. …Punctuated Equilibrium. — Something that has been stable for a long period suddenly disrupts radically—and then finds a new stability.

So, what is digital transformation? It arises from the intersection of cloud computing, big data, IoT, and AI, and it is vital to industries across the market today. …Some describe it as the power of digital technology applied to every aspect of the organization. …I find it more valuable to describe digital transformation through examples.

Remember the “Laws” –

  • Moore’s Law – In 1965 Moore described a trend he saw that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit was doubling every two years at half the cost.
  • Metcalfe’s Law — The third reason IoT will transform business is the power of Metcalfe’s Law—i.e., the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of its members.

Some vocabulary matters:
Digital transformation goes by many different names. Perhaps the most familiar is “the fourth Industrial Revolution.” …We are approaching a similar tipping point—where cloud computing, big data, IoT, and AI are converging to drive network effects and create exponential change. …Others refer to digital transformation as “the Second Machine Age.”
The first Industrial Revolution allowed humans to master mechanical power. In the last one, we harnessed electronic power. In the era of digital transformation, we will master mental power.

The real heart of this idea of digital transformation is found in the big four drivers; the key elements of digital transformation:

  • elastic cloud computing — Netflix, Uber, Deutsche Bank, and countless others now have all or a significant percentage of their information technology operating on public clouds.
  • big data — it is now possible for organizations to make near-real-time inferences based on all available data.
  • artificial intelligence — Machine learning can be divided into “supervised” and “unsupervised” approaches. – (AI; machine learning; deep learning…)
  • the internet of things — The basic idea of IoT is to connect any device equipped with adequate processing and communication capabilities to the internet, so it can send and receive data.

And here are my six lessons and takeaways:

#1 – Do not be in denial.  This is happening!
#2 – Start with an executive reading list. (The book has one at the end of the book – I have presented synopses of some of the recommended books). – Reading important books may be the overlooked survival skill.
#3 – People who “knew” may not be people who “know.” – In other words, yesterday’s IT person may not be today’s or tomorrow’s Digital Transformation person.
#4 – Establish a Center of Excellence re. digital transformation. (CoE) — The CoE brings together cross-functional expertise in digital technologies (AI, IoT) and transformation strategy, helping guide IoT product strategy and providing expert resources for other business units.
#5 – Extinction – of companies, or organizations, (of countries?) — is absolutely a possibility. Make that a certainty.  You must not let this happen to your organization.
#6 – And, don’t be surprised if punctuated equilibrium hits again, bringing a change that nobody saw coming.

There are other good books that serve to provide more of a complete picture of this changing terrain.  But I strongly recommend this to put near the top of your reading mix.


My synopsis, with my comprehensive handout + the audio recording of my presentation, is available on the newest additions page of this web site. Click here to see the books I have presented in recent months.

Trump’s Art of the Deal May Not be a Big Deal

Many years ago, I read Donald Trump‘s The Art of the Deal (New York:  Random House, 1987)

The book is often-cited as one of the best-selling business books ever written.  Others use the  Art of the Deal Covercontent of the book to register complaints about his Presidency, claiming that what Trump wrote is inconsistent with what he now says and does.

But, the larger question is, “does The Art of the Deal even qualify as a business book?”  And, exactly how big of a best-seller is it?  As of this writing, the book is in the top 100 of three Amazon.com best-seller sub-categories.

I found some information about these questions; click here to read these questions.

“It’s difficult to weigh Trump’s opus against other “business books” for two reasons.

“One, best-seller lists are almost always periodical. Amazon tallies sales by the hour, while the New York Times’ lists are by week or by month. Greg Cowles, who writes for the New York Times “Inside the List” column, says the paper doesn’t track all-time sales.
“Second, the genre called “business books” is nebulous and can range from memoirs and essays to financial tips and management strategies. Trump’s book can certainly be shelved in the business section, as it’s both a memoir by a business executive and offers business advice. But experts say it can hardly count as influential in the subcategories or important in the broader genre.
“Trump is full of B.S.,” said Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of business management at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. “The best selling/most important business books would have to be In Search of Excellence by (Thomas) Peters and (Robert) Waterman that started the genre, Built to Last by Jim Collins, The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.”

5 Reasons Why 15minutebusinessbooks.com is Different – and Useful

So many books -- so little time

We have many titles to choose from

First, let me say, as I always say, it is better for you to read a good book for yourself.

But sometimes, even if you have read a book, you need a little help pulling out the most important concepts to ponder, the most useful transferable principles and lessons to put into action.

We can help.

For 18 full years, Karl Krayer and I have been presenting synopses of best-selling, useful, provocative, informative business books – to alive audience, in Dallas, Texas. These synopses (our version of business book summaries) are available to purchase through our companion site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com. Each synopsis comes with our comprehensive handouts, and the audio recordings of our presentations.

Here’s what makes 15mintuebusinessbooks unique:

#1 – 15minutebusinessbooks.com is different because these recordings were recorded in front of live audiences.

Karl and I present these to a very alive group of business folks in Dallas, and we have done so every month since April, 1998.

You will sense the interaction between speaker and audience in these recordings. It really does make a difference to speak before a live audience, and we have done so every month, 12 times a year, for 18 full years.

#2 — 15minutebusinessbooks.com is different because we have a carefully curated list of titles – including most best-sellers.

We only select 24 titles a year – 2 books a month. We focus on books that have made it to one of the respected best-sellers lists. We look for books that we think are especially worth the time of our audience members. And, we avoid some categories (personal finance, for example). Peruse our catalogue, and you will see the kinds of books we choose.

But, consider especially the “big” best sellers – Team of Teams; Extreme Ownership; Elon Musk; Steve Jobs, Lean In, Great by Choice, Presnece, The Big Short; Womenomics; The Power of Habit. We have presented each of these, and of course, our list is much, much longer than just these titles. (After 24 books each year, for 18 years, we provide quite a selection).

#3 – 15minutebusinessbooks.com is different because our synopses are designed for more than just a casual glance or listen.  

If you print out our handouts, and listen with pen in hand, you will be more engaged as a learner.

Of course, you can listen to our recordings as you jog or drive or make birdhouses in your garage. But, if you sit at full attention, handout in hand, ears and intellect engaged, you will come away with much more benefit. Our process is designed for such engagement.

#4 — 15minutebusinessbooks.com is different because we’re two guys who have continually refined our process – I think for the better.

All of our synopses are presented by just two people: Karl Krayer and me (Randy Mayeux). We’ve been at this a while!

Speaking of my approach (Karl and I take a slightly different approach): If you look at my first handouts (I almost want to say, “please don’t”), they were not as comprehensive, and they were missing many current features.

In my synopses, and on my handouts, I now include, for every book selected, these sections:

  • Why is this book worth our time?
  • Key excepts and quotes from the book
  • Significant stories and lessons from the book
  • An outline/overview of the key content of the book
  • And, my own lessons and takeaways from the book

And, our handouts are currently designed by an accomplished graphic designer, making them easier to read and follow.

#5 — 15minutebusinessbooks.com is different because it is conducive to small group learning and discussion sessions.

We know business consultants and coaches who gather leadership teams, and they sit together, listening to the audio recordings of one of our synopses presentations, with each participant with handout in hand. Then, the consultant/coach leads a discussion of the implications of the content of this book for their organization.

It is, quite simply, a useful “content” session for a leadership team.

So, here are the five reasons:

#1 – 15minutebusinessbooks.com is different because these recordings were recorded in front of live audiences.
#2 — 15minutebusinessbooks.com is different because we have a carefully curated list of titles – including most best-sellers.
#3 – 15minutebusinessbooks.com is different because our synopses are designed for more than just a casual glance or listen.  
#4 — 15minutebusinessbooks.com is different because we’re two guys who have continually refined our process – I think for the better.
#5 — 15minutebusinessbooks.com is different because it is conducive to small group learning and discussion sessions.

Now, a confession/word of explanation. Though we call this 15minutebusinessbooks.com, they actually average around 17-19 minutes in length; even an occasional one at 20 minutes. So, yes, these are slightly longer than 15 minutes. Sorry about that.

Give it a try. Maybe start this way: pick a book you know well; one that you’ve read carefully. Order our synopsis, and you will be able to tell if we have captured the essence of the book. Then you can begin “catching up” with books you never got around to reading for yourself.

Each synopsis costs $9.99 — but you can also purchase a subscription, which includes the upcoming 12 months (24 synopses), including all of the archived synopsis, for $199.00. Click here to visit our 15minutebusienssbooks site.

15minbb150And, for companies and organizations, we provide special group pricing options. Click here to send me an e-mail, and let’s discuss special pricing for larger groups within your organization.

The Wolf of Wall Street Sits at #1 – Here’s the February, 2014 Best Sellers List of Business Books from the New York Times

Lean InWell, you knew it had to happen at some point.  Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg is not the #1 best selling business book this month.  It fell all the way down to #3 – after being #1 since the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show.  (Ok – actually only since shortly after it came out).

Here is the February, 2014 Best Sellers list of Business Books from the New York Times.  They changed how they compile and list the books in some way (I’m not quite sure) a short while ago, and their change included this:  they went from two lists (hardcover, and paperback) down to one. And in their earlier method, the hardcover list was 15 books, and the paperback list was 10 books. Now, the single list is only 10 books.  With this change, there seem to be more “older” books making a recurring appearance to the list.  (With the old method, such books were usually found on the “paperback” list).    

A couple of observations. Two earlier Malcolm Gladwell books are on this list:  The Tipping Point and Outliers, while his new book David and Goliath is simply not being included in the business book category.  (It is #2 on this week’s New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction best sellers list).  And, Lean In is #5 on the Hardcover Nonfiction list this week.

And I suspect that The Wolf of Wall Street, this month’s #1, got a boost from the movie…  Maybe Lean In will get a another similar “new boost” when the movie comes out.   (Yes, there are plans to turn Lean In into a movie).

From the ten titles from this month, we have presented synopses of 5 of them at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  I presented Lean In, The Power of Habit, Outliers, and The Tipping Point.  (I have referred to The Power of Habit twice in the last week – it is a useful/helpful book).  My colleague Karl Krayer presented Thinking, Fast and Slow.   (You can purchase our synopses of these books – see below).

Here’s the February, 2014 Business Books Best Sellers list from the New York Times.  (Go to the New York Times link for brief descriptions of each book).


THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, by Jordan Belfort.




LEAN IN, by Sheryl Sandberg with Nell Scovell.


THINKING, FAST AND SLOW, by Daniel Kahneman.


OUTLIERS, by Malcolm Gladwell.


THE POWER OF HABIT, by Charles Duhigg.




PEOPLE TOOLS, by Alan C. Fox.


ON THE EDGE, by Alison Levine.


THE TIPPING POINT, by Malcolm Gladwell.


15minadYou can purchase our synopses of these books, with our multi-page, comprehensive handouts plus the audio of our recordings of our presentations from the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.

Leaders and their Conversations – Good Books Can Help

I read business books.  Along with my colleague Karl Krayer, I present synopses of business books.  These presentations help facilitate needed conversations.

I think a lot about how to think about the needs of leaders, and how to “plan” these needed conversations.  So, here is my latest visual take on this.  This one includes eight “conversations” for leaders to have, all revolving around “The Healthy & Growing Organization – Constantly Adapting and Innovating.”  The book titles are all ones that I have presented.  (Karl Krayer has presented other books that would further enhance these conversations).  And, please do not pass judgement on the “look” of this page – I am not a graphic designer, and I prepared this just to help me, and others, think about these issues.  Take a look:

Click on image for full view

Click on image for full view

Some suggestions:  Buy copies of these books for your leadership team, and read them together.  Such an approach is ideal – but some groups have discovered that “not everyone actually reads the books.”

So, another option — bring us into your organization to lead these sessions.
purchase our synopses of these books from our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.  Each purchase provides you with the audio recording of our presentation from the First Friday Book Synopsis, held monthly in Dallas, along with our comprehensive handouts.  Some groups play the recordings (around 17 minutes), and then start their discussion.

Now, take a good look at the visual.  Whether you use these books or not, or this plan or not, wouldn’t a few sessions on these issues be really valuable for your team?


(Contact me by e-mail).

What’s Wrong with Barnes & Noble’s Picture?

I was surprised today (2/28/2012) when I received an e-Mail with Barnes & Noble’s “top picks of this week’s new books.”

The list does not contain a category for “business,” nor do I see a single business book listed.

What’s wrong with this picture?  Is this just a bad week for them in the eyes of Barnes & Noble?

Like our other bloggers, I have a great appetite for business books.  They have become a passion, and I eagerly anticipate the publication of the best-selling list every Saturday morning the Wall Street Journal Weekend edition.

I think that not including a single business title in the “top picks” of the week is quite strange.  This is especially true when lists of top non-fiction books regularly include a number of best-selling business books.

Are you surprised that the list features “cookbooks” but no business books?

How do you interpret this omission?  Does it say more about Barnes & Noble, or about the status of business books?

Let me hear from you!  Let’s talk about this really soon.

Here is the list that they distributed, with categories in blue:

Hot New Fiction
Lone Wolf


Trail of the Spellmans

Cinnamon Roll Murder

Ideas and Advice for You
Wishes Fulfilled

The Power of Habit

The Emotional Life of Your Brain

Let It Go

Compelling History

China’s Wings Kingdom During the Golden Age of Flight

Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith

Blackhorse Riders

New Biography & Memoir
House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East

The First Lady of Fleet Street


Burn Down the Ground

The Latest Romance
Redwood Bend

Witchful Thinking

The Darkest Seduction

Deadly Sins

New for Kids
Penny and Her Song

The Kane Chronicles Survival Guide


Power Play

New for Teens




New in Cookbooks
Hello, Jell-O!

Asian Tofu

Alain Ducasse Nature

Joy the Baker Cookbook