Review: Wikinomics

WikinomicsThis book is primarily an investigation into how companies can benefit from new technologies and a new spirit of openness and collaboration – with customers, other businesses and work colleagues.

I’ve just finished this book, and I must say that it was a lot better than expected – it is not a dry, sterile read. I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm the authors inject and the scope of examples they used. Although I haven’t reviewed the other books I’ve mentioned, it is clear that there is a fair amount of overlap in some of the areas and some of the examples given – however, when dealing with an industry that is just starting to mature this is only to be expected.

Backing up their ideas, they are particularly strong when looking at Wikipedia and Amazon. In fact, the Amazon section is very good indeed, explaining how affiliate programs and market places work – the company gets real benefits from allowing others to plug into their system. Google Maps is also explored (forgive the pun) in-depth, looking at how people combine it to create useful mashups. There are advantages (promotes innovation) and disadvantages (anyone can create a competing service as they have the same access to information as the trailblazer.) It becomes apparent that there is not one solution that will work for everyone. It is for businesses to decide the level of openness and collaboration – too little and you won’t reap all the benefits, too much and you risk losing the “secret sauce” that makes your product unique.

Much to its credit, the book then ventures off into areas that have not been covered elsewhere. Science and research are one of the areas looked at to determine the advantages brought by increased peer review. The open source Linux operating system, social networking, the Chinese motorcycle industry (?!), car and aeroplane manufacturers are examined. Finally, there is a look at how working practices in companies will have to change, new ways of sharing information and the implications for how an agile company will be structured.

Sounds like heavy stuff but it isn’t – even if you already have an intimate knowledge of Chinese two-wheeled vehicle makers and their remarkable impact on the market share of incumbent Japanese producers in Vietnam – you are bound to learn something and it will give you plenty to think about.


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