653: Fred covers the genesis of the Net Promoter Score and why customer-centricity should be every company’s focus. Fred talks about the lessons he learned when spending time with CEOs of customer-focused companies and how they relate to his metric for measuring customer lives enriched. He covers the common ways that NPS has been misused, practices that NPS has led to remarkable success, and how this holds true for even digital native companies. He also discusses the employee side of the equation as it relates to recruiting talent, enriching employee lives, and fostering greater degrees of customer-centricity across the organization. Finally, Fred hones in on why the nuance of enriching a customer’s life is an important distinction to enriching a company’s outputs.

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This episode is sponsored by Zoho.

646: Mark discusses the thesis behind his book, The Cloud Revolution, and how his previous book, Digital Cathedrals, acts as a predicate. Mark covers the rhyming political, social, and technological dynamics between the 1918-1920 Pandemic and the present and how the three spheres of technology; information, materials, and machines; have intersected over the years to bring about revolutions. Finally, Mark looks ahead at how technology is changing employment, the necessary retraining that arises, and what will define the winners in the Roaring 2020s.

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This episode is sponsored by Cisco and Zoho.

         

645: Stanley covers his latest book, Risk: A User’s Guide, and discusses the way people should be assessing, calculating, and acting on risks an organization faces. He begins by defining what risk is, ten risk control factors used to evaluate risk, and why humans are naturally poor at calculating risk. Stanley discusses the necessity of having a narrative that aligns with the values set forth by the organization and ties this into the U.S.’s foreign policy. Finally, Stanley gives his perspective on the current war in Ukraine, the risk each party faces, and what constitutes a good decision. This broadcast was recorded in front of a live audience.

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This episode is sponsored by Cisco.

639: In this interview, Jim discusses the beginnings of his career and how his early experiences inspired the genesis of Square. He shares a couple of key strategies that he pursued to compete with large players like Amazon and how this led to the concept of his book, The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time. Finally, Jim gives an overview of Invisibly’s business, gives his perspective on the problems with the business model of existing platforms, and looks ahead at what the future holds for the company.

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This episode is sponsored by Cisco.

As someone who released a book over the past year, I have been keenly aware of the great works of others published in 2021. The many great contributions reflecting rising trends in technology, the acceleration of digital transformation, the sancitity of customer-centricity, and the importance of remaining aware of the relevance of various trends to the evolution of one’s business all were represented across numerous tomes of consequence in the year that has passed. Here are ten that stood out.

AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future, by Kai-Fu Lee

Artificial intelligence is perhaps the most important technology of our time. How will it change the world over the next 20 years? In his latest book, Kai-Fu Lee, author of the bestseller “AI Superpowers” and former head of Google China, provides an immersive vision for how AI will transform aspects of our daily lives.

Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire, by Brad Stone

In a follow-up to his 2013 bestseller The Everything Store, Bloomberg News’s Brad Stone offers a perspective on how the company’s innovation and acquisition strategy have propelled it to be the world’s largest e-commerce company.

The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism, by Hubert Joly

As Chairman and CEO of Best Buy from 2012 to 2019, Hubert Joly led the immensely successful transformation of the electronics retailer. In his latest book, The Heart of Business, Hubert gives a look into his philosophy of “human magic” to illustrate how the people of Best Buy created a customer-centric company, and competed successfully against some of the most successful digital native competitors in the process.

Play Nice But Win: A CEO’s Journey from Founder to Leader, by Michael Dell

Successfully navigating a firm through a rapidly changing business landscape requires a good dose of grit and a leader ready to face some setbacks. From dorm-room CEO to leader of a global technology giant, Michael Dell charts the evolution of his eponymous computer company and shares his perspectives on the corporate struggles that defined him as a leader.  

The Exponential Age: How Accelerating Technology is Transforming Business, Politics and Society, by Azeem Azhar

We are living through a period of unprecedented technological change, and the pace of change is only accelerating. Azeem Azhar, creator and host of the popular Exponential View newsletter and podcast, explores the widening gap between the pace of change and our ability to adapt, and offers a new framework for understanding the impact of technology on the economy, politics, and the future.

Risk: A User’s Guide, by General Stanley McChrystal and Anna Butrico

General Stanley McChrystal understands risk at his core, having served at the highest ranks of the American military. In recent years as a business consultant, he has advised executives on how best to apply what he has learned on the topic to the business world. He and his co-author, Anna Butrico, define ten dimensions or controls of risk that we can adjust at any given time. The authors provide the mechanics to develop a healthy Risk Immune System to anticipate, identify, analyze and act upon the possibility that things will not go as planned.

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, by Adam Grant

To succeed in today’s fast-changing world, we must not only be continuous learners, but also un-learners and re-learners. We must develop this capacity and inclination in ourselves as well as in our teams. In Think Again, Wharton professor and bestselling author Adam Grant gives us tips and tools to question our assumptions, stay curious and develop nimbler and and more flexible mindsets.  

The Age of AI: And Our Human Future, by Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, and Daniel Huttenlocher

How will AI transform our society? In this book, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and MIT Schwarzman College of Computing Dean Daniel Huttenlocher explore how economics, politics, security and even knowledge itself is being re-imagined in the age of AI. They draw upon their diverse experiences as a statesman, a CEO, and an academic to highlight the dramatic changes that AI will usher in, ultimately transforming how we all experience reality.

Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation, by Kevin Roose

With the rising influence of AI and algorithms, some fear that automation will threaten jobs. In Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation, New York Times technology columnist Kevin Roose presents a hopeful future where humans can successfully thrive in the AI age, shares what skills are necessary in a world increasingly influenced by algorithms, and argues that we should focus on being more human rather than becoming more like machines. 

The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and a Roaring 2020s, by Mark P. Mills

There are many pundits who write compellingly about a dystopian future brought on by technology advances run amok, with worries about how companies and the technology they unleash will continue to change our society for the worse. Mark Mills of the Manhattan Institute offers a counter-point to that perspective, positing that we are the cusp of a second “roaring ‘20s” brought on by radical advances in three primary technology domains: microprocessors, materials, and machines. Accelerating and enabling all of this is the Cloud, history’s biggest infrastructure, which is itself based on the building blocks of next-generation microprocessors and artificial intelligence. With a historian’s ability to connect dots across the last century as well futurists pluck to articulate big bets on the future, Mills offers perspectives that are worth contemplating.

Peter High is President of  Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. He has written two bestselling books, and his third, Getting to Nimble, was recently released. He also moderates the Technovation podcast series and speaks at conferences around the world. Follow him on Twitter @PeterAHigh.

Another year has passed, and technology and digital remain on the ascent, as companies focus on each as sources of new revenue streams and resilience. The innovations were represented well in a variety of pieces throughout the year. Though it is impossible to fully represent the breadth of that writing, here are ten noteworthy pieces that provide greater context to advances made and issues faced in 2021.

The Cost of Cloud: A Trillion-Dollar Paradox

By Sarah Wang and Martin Casado, a16z.com, May 2021

Sarah Wang and Martin Casado of the venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, argue that while cloud delivers significant value early in a firm’s growth, the costs it puts on the business may eventually outweigh the benefits. While primarily focused on startups, this article has been a useful thought starter for enterprise technology leaders as they continue to explore the long-term business implications of the cloud. 

Why Computers Won’t Make Themselves Smarter

By Ted Chiang, The New Yorker, March 30, 2021

The notion of ‘the singularity’ has been tantalizing the tech community for decades, heralding a future with infinitely powerful artificial intelligence capable of independently improving itself. Even with the phenomenal computing advancements of the 21st century, it seems we are nowhere closer to actualizing this intelligence explosion. Is it truly possible for a computer program to surpass the intelligence of its human creators? Chiang offers an interesting counter-point to those who say yes.

The Technopolar Moment: How Digital Powers Will Reshape the Global Order

By Ian Bremmer, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2021

For centuries, nation states have been the primary actor in global affairs, but that is beginning to change as massive technology companies begin to rival them for geopolitical influence. Technology giants are increasingly shaping the global environment and wield tremendous influence over the technologies and services billions of people interact with daily. This piece explores the sovereignty tech giants wield over the digital space and beyond.  

Moore’s Law for Everything,

By Sam Altman, SamAltman.com, March 16, 2021

As the CEO of OpenAI and former President of YCombinator, Sam Altman has a unique perspective on the future of artificial intelligence. In a recent essay, Altman explores the intersection between rapid progress in AI, politics and the economy, including global AI governance, wealth inequality and how AI could change the geopolitical balance of power. He ultimately concludes on an optimistic note, noting that the AI revolution “will generate enough wealth for everyone to have what they need, if we as a society manage it responsibly.”

The Outsider: How CEO-For-Hire Frank Slootman Turned Snowflake Into Software’s Biggest-Ever IPO

By Alex Konrad, Forbes, February 1, 2021

Former ServiceNow CEO Frank Slootman has branded himself as an unstoppable force in the tech industry, leading companies with an iron fist and demanding excellence from his constituents. Taking the reins as Snowflake’s CEO in 2019, Slootman has ignited another aggressive transformation to shift the cloud-based data warehouse to a multifunctional data hub capable of outracing the industry’s largest competitors. In this piece, Alex Konrad unravels Slootman’s playbook for turning Silicon Valley’s next cautionary tale into the fifth largest tech-listing in the United States.

How to Negotiate with Ransomware Hackers 

By Rachel Monroe, The New Yorker, June 7, 2021

This piece offers a clear-eyed look at the evolving cyber extortion industry through the eyes of the rare ransomware negotiation specialist. If you’ve ever wondered what happens when a company gets hit with a ransomware attack, this article provides insights into how to fight (or, rather, negotiate).

Students Who Grew Up with Search Engines Might Change STEM Education 

By Monica Chin, The Verge, September 2021

A generational divide in how we use computers is showing up in classrooms around the country. In an age where Google-like search interfaces are ubiquitous, many students today have little knowledge of, or seeming need for, file folders and directories. This is a compact but meaningful story about the confusing, though often humorous, situations brought on by technological progress.

What Ever Happened to IBM’s Watson?

By Steve Lohr, New York Times, July 16, 2021

A decade ago, IBM’s Watson supercomputer defeated Ken Jennings, the best human “Jeopardy!” player ever. IBM executives said that their artificial intelligence would transform industries, generate fortunes for the company, and start a technological revolution. In What Ever Happened to IBM’s Watson? New York Times Technology Reporter Steve Lohr traces the company’s missteps with Watson that have led IBM to settle on a far less ambitious AI strategy, suggesting that “the march of artificial intelligence through the mainstream economy, it turns out, will be more step-by-step evolution than cataclysmic revolution.”

For an Agile Transformation, Choose the Right People

By Rob Cross, Heidi K. Gardner, Alia Crocker, Harvard Business Review, April 2021

Researchers from Babson College and Harvard Law School find that while Agile methods can improve processes and increase speed to market, many Agile teams are not organized for long-term success. This piece examines where many Agile efforts go wrong and offers a revised approach to building strong Agile teams.

Epic Games Believes the Internet is Broken. This is Their Blueprint to Fix It.

By Gene Park, The Washington Post, September 28, 2021

The ‘social media era’ of the internet has stifled consumer engagement with commerce, leaving users’ brand exploration limited to the interests of social media moguls. Championing the internet’s freedom from exploitative herd advertising, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney lays out his plan for the metaverse, a revolutionary online ecosystem where users and brands can freely collaborate and seamlessly interact to transform the digital consumer experience.

Peter High is President of  Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. He has written two bestselling books, and his third, Getting to Nimble, was recently released. He also moderates the Technovation podcast series and speaks at conferences around the world. Follow him on Twitter @PeterAHigh.

616: Kai-Fu Lee discusses the evolution of artificial intelligence and the 20-year horizon for its implementation. Kai-Fu shares why 20 years was an appropriate time horizon for his book on the future of AI, why Chen Qiufan, a science-fiction novelist, was the perfect person to partner with, and how the two of them originated the idea for ten visions of AI. He also discusses the impact of artificial intelligence on society including the future of work, changes in society, and shaping of opinions. Finally, Kai-Fu gives his perspective on the factors necessary to lead to greater adoption of artificial intelligence and how the global leadership of certain areas of its development and implementation has evolved.

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This episode is sponsored by Transmit Security.

601: In this interview, Brad Stone, Senior Executive Editor for Global Technology at Bloomberg News and bestselling author of his latest book Amazon Unbound, focuses on Amazon’s growth since his last book and what the future of Amazon looks like. Brad describes his decision to write about Amazon again after his 2013 book and shares insights from it on how Amazon manages to succeed despite its increasing size. He also talks about what the handoff of the CEO role to Andy Jassy will look like, Amazon’s headwinds when it comes to regulatory scrutiny, and Amazon’s overall impact on society. Brad discusses how Amazon continued its massive growth during the pandemic, how Amazon attracts and retains technical talent in a competitive market, and how Amazon strategizes its acquisitions. Finally, Brad gives his perspective on how Jeff Bezos’s personal life influences his success at Amazon, how Brad’s access to Amazon and Bezos’s circle of friends changed after his first book, and what Brad Stone sees as his next big topic to investigate.

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This episode is sponsored by Quickbase.

600: In this interview, Seth Godin, bestselling author of The Practice, focuses on what it means to be an artist and navigating your journey as one. Seth begins by describing himself as a teacher and why the term “art” should be broadly applied beyond traditional forms of visual art. He shares how instituting a process causes flow and success as a writer as opposed to flow causing process and describes the three foundations of art: curiosity, generosity, and connection. Seth shares why consistency in art is crucial and how the internet helps aspiring artists find the smallest viable audience for their work to navigate and pivot their journey. He gives his perspective on the importance of having constraints and being able to find joy in the challenge to work with them. Additionally, Seth opines on the concept of Imposter Syndrome, the myth of writer’s block, and building skill over-relying on talent, among other topics.

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This episode is sponsored by Quickbase.

585: In this interview, Dave Evans, assistant professor at Stanford and best-selling author, discusses his latest book, Designing Your Work Life, which highlights how employees and managers can improve the work experience. Dave provides strategies that people can use with their current jobs to make their career more fulfilling, the three kinds of overwhelm employees can feel, how they can mitigate these before overwhelm turns into burnout, and how managers can help employees develop their own pathways in the company. Finally, Dave talks about how remote work has made face-to-face interaction easier, yet made onboarding new employees and informal interactions between employees more difficult to facilitate.