Professor Venkat N. Venkatraman has built a 30-year career on helping businesses adapt to technological change. A management professor and department chair at the Boston University Questrom School of Business, he is a top-cited researcher at the crossroads of strategy and information technology and was twice awarded an IBM fellowship for his work focusing on business challenges in the network era. In addition to his academic work, Venkatraman consults with companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Ericsson, Zurich Financial, and McKinsey & Co, helping them transform their businesses through technology using a set of new rules that he developed to guide companies in the digital age.
With digital disruption now affecting every industry from automotive to apparel, Venkatraman saw a need to take this information to a broader audience. He does so in his new book, The Digital Matrix: New Rules for Business Transformation Through Technology, published by LifeTree Media in February 2017. In it, Venkatraman addresses the massive changes rapidly charging through the world of business. Ambitious digital-driven startups are now creating and cornering new markets in every sector, yet most legacy companies continue to operate by old playbooks. These incumbents can’t keep pace with the changes in their industry, let alone spearhead new changes as they once did. Venkatraman knows the future of these companies depends on their ability to harness digital technology, and in The Digital Matrix, he shows them how to do it.
Using current case studies and practical, experience-based advice, the book uses a fitting model for the digital realm: a matrix. Through it, we come to understand the three types of players that are shaping the new business landscape; the three phases of transformation that every firm will encounter on its reinvention journey; and the three winning moves that they must take to ensure success. This is the digital matrix, and its significance is best described in an endorsement by Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM: “Venkat Venkatraman has created an essential new model for digital business strategy… at once simple, pragmatic and quietly groundbreaking. It is nothing less than a roadmap for the next era of business transformation.”
Venkatraman wrote The Digital Matrix at the urging of executives who wanted a takeaway from his workshops and lectures. “I would just give them my slides, but those I felt were really incomplete artefacts of the ideas,” Venkatraman said. “After every one of those talks I would say, ‘I need to finish this book.'”
With just 12 months to complete the book while on sabbatical, Venkatraman knew he would be working against the clock. After studying his publishing options, he determined that self-publishing wouldn’t allow him to achieve the high-quality result he desired, while the traditional publishing route was deemed too slow and ambiguous. “You spend a lot of time writing the proposal,” says Venkat of traditional publishing, “which, for a first-time author, is simply a chore. And then you have to go through the bidding process. I didn’t know how long [it] would have taken.”
Instead, Venkatraman opted for hybrid publishing with LifeTree Media, a middle path where he could meet the rigorous standards he expected within the timeframe he needed. Working with LifeTree’s team of editors, designers and publishing experts, he was able to refine his concepts and complete his manuscript before start of the new school year.
Venkatraman, who had previously written primarily for an academic audience, admits he came up against some challenges in the writing process. “[Academics] use all kinds of shorthand and jargon. Writing for a general audience, finding the voice took a little bit of time.” But, like many authors, he was surprised to find the voice was there all along. “I give credit to [substantive editor Lucy Kenward] for taking what I thought was a garbled first draft and helping me to reframe and polish it.”
With the finished book receiving glowing praise from academics and business leaders alike, Venkat is excited for its release. He has already received requests for presentations on the material he covers in The Digital Matrix, as well as bulk orders from corporate clients. But as an academic, what most excites Venkatraman is the prospect of sharing his ideas, and helping leaders around the world bring their organizations, products and practices into the digital age.
Now that his book is on its way to bookstores across the continent, Venkatraman wants to pass the flaming torch–or the sharpened pencil–on to other experts and aspiring authors. “Is there a set of ideas that you feel you want to share with the professional community? You have a responsibility to share your thoughts in a format that other people can read and consume.”
Venkatraman launches The Digital Matrix at an invitation-only event in Palo Alto, CA on January 10th. The book hits store shelves February 4th in Canada and February 7th in the US. Pre-order it on Amazon now.
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