First published on LinkedIn
Last week I wrote the first in a series of three posts on influential books from the last century that I contend are still relevant to today’s changing IT world. The subject of the first was Louis Gerstner’s “Who says elephants can’t dance?” about IBM’s reinvention in the 1990s. A manual for today perhaps? Well, with what I can only claim as coincidence rather than prescience, I seem to have called it right. HP announced their intended split earlier this week which I reckon shows that the elephants will indeed dance again. Gerstner’s book could well be required re-reading for Meg Whitman and her board(s). The IT discussion threads are now all a-chatter about other IT behemoths following suit, so if you want to see more Dumbos in tutus you may not have long to wait.
But if that seminal work was focused on a saving an historic IT business, today’s choice is more about how to create the business in the first place and what business, nay marketing strategies might be employed to ensure the successful transition from fledgling IT vendor to an established and respected leader.
Of all the business books that have shaped the way I think about marketing, Crossing The Chasm by Geoffrey Moore is the daddy. Moore, a management consultant and marketer has dedicated his professional life to understanding how the technology adoption life cycle works and how companies can profit from understanding it and market appropriately throughout its various stages.
The ‘chasm’ referred to in the title is the gap between the visionaries who adopt technology on the basis of its discontinuous innovation and uniqueness and the early pragmatists who, as their name implies, bring a pragmatic view to the adoption – requiring evidence of successful implementation and a solution-based approach before willing to invest.Moore identifies further groupings – the late majority and the laggards and discusses how approaches to marketing to these groups need to be equally different and nuanced.
Whilst Moore went on to write a number of other best sellers, riffing off the theme, such as Inside the Tornado and The Gorilla Game, it is Crossing The Chasm that is the Art of War for technology marketers.
If you are just starting out on your IT marketing career or are an old hand who “knows it all”, if you haven’t read this book you are missing out on a key part of your business education.
What book transcends the test of time for you? What lesson did you apply? Come back next week to read about my final pick for an evergreen manual for today’s business leader.