A book review

1 April 2020 13:21

(updated: 30 April 2020 09:52)

A book review

Do you need to better understand how to manage, transform, grow and control your business in an area of virtually unbounded potential impact? Please read book review written by Professor Tor W. Andreassen.

“Competing in the Age of AI: strategy and leadership when algorithms and networks run the world” by Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2020, 267 pages.

“Competing in the Age of AI: strategy and leadership when algorithms and networks run the world” by Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2020, 267 pages.

Artificial Intelligence (Ai) is in the vogue in business. While many large corporates create skunkworks for experimental technologies or acquire startups, few incumbent businesses have allowed AI processes to change the core of the organization. This could be because executives in traditional businesses have little understanding of how these technologies work and are unwilling to take the risk of investing in something they do not understand. Another compelling reason is that the tech-side of AI rather than the application side of AI is currently getting more attention by media.

The present book by two Harvard Business School professors attempts to deal with this issue. Competing in the Age of AI presents a persuasive case for putting AI at the center of the business. Any business - with huge financial success. The evidence is found on the 2019-list of the world’s top ten most valuable firms in the world which is dominated by platform-based companies. In educating the reader, the authors raise three AI-issues:

Weak vs strong AI

Strong AI mimics human emotion and creativity. Warehouse robots replacing people assembling items for an online order, is an example of weak AI. Interestingly, weak AI is the force that is changing the rules of the game in numerous industries today. Bottom line: small AI-changes can make a big difference.

Becoming AI centric

To become AI centric, firms need to agree to put software at the core of the firm, rather than people. Digitizing functions and tasks in order to remove human bottlenecks and enables the firm to scale frictionless. Bottom line: the firm becomes more agile

A big career opportunity

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science present big opportunities for technical and non-technical professionals alike. According to the LinkedIn Emerging Jobs report, machine learning engineer and data scientist are both in the top 20 fastest growing professions. Bottom line: professionals and students need to read up on the subject in order to stay attractive in the market.

My take

I approached the book as part of my own self-education. As a business innovation researcher, I need to better understand the implications of this technology and how it may aid firms to create more value for its customers through more innovative market offerings and new business models. I also wanted to improve my understanding of how traditional firms can make the transition from hierarchical production companies producing goods and services of high quality to become AI first companies driven data, analytics, and AI.

Competing in the Age of AI gave me tons of value for money. I highly recommend the book to leaders, innovators and business students who will not only be enlightened but also inspired by the many cases and practical advice. The fact that it is well-written makes it an easy book to consume.