of the Box is a thoughtful examination of how Web services can provide
real agility and help leaders in any business realize their company's
Executives are understandably skeptical of any grand promises made about the potential of technologies. In the 1990s, companies poured billions of dollars into massive ERP systems and Internet platforms with little to show for their investment. At the same time that their companies are built out to the walls with complex, inflexible, and even outdated technologies that don't deliver business value, they are charged with the enormously stressful and difficult task of simultaneously cutting costs and spurring growth. Managers everywhere are feeling trapped by their technology.
In the new book Out of the Box, business strategist and bestselling author John Hagel III explains how a new generation of technology-Web services-can give executives what they are desperate for: the ability to deliver operating cost and asset savings to the bottom line quickly and with modest investment. Web services-which automate connections across applications and data-offer a refreshing alternative approach to IT that is far more flexible than traditional approaches. Drawing from the experiences of pioneering adopters, Hagel shows how Web services will enable companies of all sizes to:
According to Hagel, the pragmatism of this approach, devoid of "change the world" promises, will help drive Web services adoption. Out of the Box provides a clear view of the business implications of Web services: its distinct capabilities, its power to deliver near-term profits, and its potential to drive long-term growth. As it discusses Web services, the book provides deep insights into business strategy. At its core, this book tackles the most fundamental business issue facing managers today: how to continue to create value as competition intensifies. It also outlines innovative approaches to business process management and organization. In the end, Web services provide a catalyst to help managers break out of the organizational, structural, and mental "boxes" that have to date prevented organizations from achieving higher levels of performance.
As with Hagel's previous books, Net Gain and Net Worth, Out of the Box is a landmark book helping senior executives understand the business and economic impact of new technology. Indeed, as John Seely Brown writes in his foreword, the potential impact of Web services is so profound, they may well "hold the key to our next wave of economic growth."
for Out of the Box
of the Box provides a practical road map to the information age. In
the never ending chase of 'better, faster, and cheaper' business models,
Hagel has written in simple English a guide to how Web services can enable
businesses to leverage their existing technology while incrementally implementing
new and more flexible business models. This is a must-read for any executive
who expects to compete in the information age."
"John Hagel has
done it again with another compelling look at the role of technology in
today's turbulent business arena. Out
of the Box should be on every leader's desk. Your business and your
customers will thank you for it."
straightforward steps, Out
of the Box deftly shows how Web services can lead to important increases
in a corporation's profitability and performance. Easy to read, easy to
understand, and action oriented, this book should be read by any manager
wanting to get-and stay-ahead of the competition. John Hagel is one of
the clearest thinking and straightest talking analysts in the United States
has the potential to be as fundamental in driving the transformation of
the technology landscape as IP networks and HTML were in the '90s. Hagel
has always been at the forefront of each major paradigm shift, and now
has done a great job in outlining a new roadmap for business and technology
leaders to follow to leverage the opportunities Web services afford us."
answers the 'So What?' question about Web services and its impact on business.
of the Box is an excellent strategy guide for understanding the next
"big wave" of productivity and business functionality improvement
and should be required reading for every manager."
change from the scores of 'how to' books on technology topics. Out
of the Box casts the next generation of software technologies in exactly
the right context for today's focus on execution and business results.
His concepts are clear and insightful, and provide valuable tools for
business and technology leaders."
change comes when innovators stop developing complex solutions to complex
problems, and instead find ways to simplify the problems. This book
describes how the disruptive technology of web services is poised to simplify
and transform the information technology industry."
with the Author: John Hagel III
Explain how companies
have traditionally approached IT and how a Web services approach differs.
Constructed on Internet-based technologies, a Web services architecture is open rather than proprietary and offers clear advantages over its predecessor. First, it can be implemented incrementally in small slices to deliver business benefits quickly. Second, it leverages existing technology investment, rather than requiring companies to rip out existing platforms. Third, it creates much more flexibility in connections across applications so that businesses can change their operations - and business partners - much more readily than they could before. Finally, it is much more effective in dealing with the inevitable complexity confronted when enterprises try to automate connections with many business partners, each operating on their own technology platforms and possessing varying degrees of technology expertise.
Where should companies
adopt Web services first?
You say that the
early adoption of Web services will be driven by the opportunity for cost
and asset savings. What are the other economic benefits?
You clearly emphasize
that technology is only a catalyst and enabler. Beyond possessing the
technology, what must companies do to realize the benefits of Web services?
management is one area that you say can benefit from restructuring. How
Process networks are expanding groups of companies organized by an orchestrator across multiple levels of activity in a business process. These loosely coupled business processes make it easier to tailor a business process to the needs of specific products, customers, or transactions. But that is only the beginning. The real power of this orchestration approach will be to foster opportunities for specialization and rapid performance improvement among the participants. To exploit this potential, managers will need to develop a different focus on business processes, understanding that the processes do not begin and end at the boundaries of the enterprise, but instead reach out to encompass and mobilize a very diverse set of enterprises.
You also discuss
a significant restructuring of the enterprise itself-what you refer to
as "unbundling" the enterprise-which will accompany the development
of process networks. Explain.
We've already begun
to see some unbundling, but Web services will significantly accelerate
You say that the
ultimate economic prize is the opportunity to pursue leveraged growth
strategies. What do you mean by leveraged growth?
Part of the challenge for managers pursuing leveraged growth strategies is to determine what assets they must own in order to create appropriate incentives for business partners. Other challenges include the complexity created by a broad set of business relationships spanning across diverse enterprises and the need for flexibility to change these relationships as customer needs and market conditions change. In the past, information technology made it difficult to pursue leveraged growth strategies - it was simply too expensive and inflexible to help build the kinds of business relationships required. Web services offer the potential to change that - their capabilities are precisely tailored for the needs of leveraged growth.