The more you read, the more you learn. Books broaden your horizons and open your mind to innovative ideas – especially in fields as expansive as the IoT. We asked IoT practitioners what books they – both non-fiction and novels. As we suspected, their selections are every bit as eclectic as today’s IoT landscape.
Markus Weinberger is Professor for “Internet of Things” at Aalen University. Before that, he was Director of the Bosch Internet of Things & Services Lab at the University of St. Gallen. He holds a Ph.D. in Engineering from the Technische Universität München.
One book that touches on several historical aspects of IoT and digitalization is The Zero Marginal Cost Society by Jeremy Rifkin. The author explores the impacts of marginal costs approaching zero. That’s a subject that interests me, because it’s a known phenomenon in the digital economy. But it is also increasingly applicable to trade in physical goods – aka the sharing economy. Another subject that occupies my thoughts is the social consequences of the digital transformation. Race against the Machine (Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee) is a good starting point, even if it’s not entirely up to date.
Rainer Kallenbach was Chairman of the Executive Board of Bosch Software Innovations GmbH from January 2014 until December 2017, with direct management responsibility for business planning, strategic portfolio management, technology, and product development.
In many ways, I’m still a big kid who loves to play with high-tech toys and always wants the latest gadget. I’ve always had a childlike sense of curiosity and I hope that stays with me for a long time to come. I deliberately chose a career in technical cybernetics – a subject that seemed utopian at the time – simply because I had such an affinity for technology. Naturally, I was also influenced by the literary culture of the day. In the 1960s, the Polish writer Stanisław Lem published some remarkable works of science fiction. I particularly enjoyed his collection of short stories Fables for Robots. When I reread them today, I appreciate his visionary ideas even more. Robots that can see and hear are exhibited at practically every trade fair these days.
The term “ecosystem” is often used when referring to IoT. In this context, it means a continuous process of change. An ecosystem is never static – it grows and flourishes. Setbacks are part of this natural process: brush fires can destroy vegetation, and deciduous trees lose their leaves every fall. This repeated cycle of creation and destruction is the very essence of a healthy, living ecosystem.
If we apply this analogy to the business world, it means that any person or company that withdraws and refuses to embrace change will quickly cease belonging to the ecosystem. I can highly recommend Hermann Hesse’s Pictor’s Metamorphosis. The story concerns a man who arrives in heaven and is offered the chance of having his wishes fulfilled. In other words, even paradise is a constantly evolving ecosystem.
Tariq Hussain is Head of Strategic Partnerships at Zumtobel Group. Currently, he focuses on new IoT partnerships and customer engagement related to Internet of Lighting and Zumtobel Group’s new Digital Service Offerings.
I admit to being somewhat skeptical about leadership models. Based on personal experience, my recommended read for managers is Your Competent Child by Jesper Juul, which is actually a book on educational theory. The author advocates listening to children and engaging with them as the best method of parenting. In my view, the same approach is key for companies that need to bring young talent on board, and then get them actively involved so that they can realize their full potential.
Florian Schmidt is an IoT Consultant within the IoT ecosystem. He has been working for Bosch since 2015, starting out as Operations Concept Manager and then joining the Bosch IoT Cloud Project as System Architect shortly thereafter. Florian has over 15 years of work experience, gained at start-ups in New Zealand as well as at high-tech companies in Germany and the United States.
The company I worked for before joining Bosch serves the industrial market as a provider of application-specific web-based services for condition monitoring, industrial process optimization, and predictive maintenance.
We had a lot of experience developing software and delivering services to customers. But the bigger we grew, the more complex it got. The fast growth brought in many new employees with different backgrounds and experience. We failed to recognize the importance of synchronizing our efforts and moving in one direction. A book recommended to us during a workshop – The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win – was instrumental in getting us all on the same page. Soon everyone had read this book, from development and operations to information security, legal, sales and marketing, and even our top executives.
This changed the tone of our discussions. We compared our own situation to the situations described in The Phoenix Project and started to solve issues the way they were solved in the novel. We broke silos and made sure everyone knew what we were talking about and wanted to achieve.
I highly recommend The Phoenix Project, not only because it’s fun to read and every IT professional can identify with the protagonists. It also portrays the trials and tribulations of transforming traditional IT services into profitable business solutions.
Felix Hieronymi has been Vice President Connected Mobility Solutions at Bosch since January 2018. He held various positions at Bosch and was leader of the project “agile company in a digital age”.
In my previous role as leader of the project “agile company in a digital age” at Bosch, it was my goal to make our company more flexible and prepare the company for the challenges of today’s world. We focused not only on new development methods and agile organization forms but also on how the digital age affects people and employees. On reflection, there is no one seminal work that I could recommend to read. But there are plenty of books worth reading. One example that comes to mind is Reinventing Organizations by Frédéric Laloux. Among other topics, it invites readers to critically rethink the whole notion of organizations. Another book that caught my interest is Scrum: The Art of doing twice the work in half of the time by Jeff Sutherland. He describes the benefits of an iterative approach to software development in clearly understandable terms.
Thomas Jakob has been responsible for the Asia-Pacific region with Bosch Software Innovations since 2012. Prior to joining Bosch Software Innovations, Thomas ran his own consulting firm providing strategy advice to high-tech companies after having served as CEO and CFO of T-Systems Asia South.
When I look toward the future, my impression is that everything will happen much faster than we imagine. My vision of the world in ten or 15 years’ time has little in common with the world as we know it today. Just look at artificial intelligence, or the notion of virtual holographic presence. The science fiction novel The Circle by David Eggers is an interesting take on the subject. Set a decade from now, this book portrays a dystopia in which a hugely powerful Internet and social media company gains more and more control over people’s lives and the wanted and unwanted consequences of it. Our job is to make sure that we leverage the positive and limit the downsides.
Joachim Heinz is co-founder and managing partner of co-shift, a strategy consultancy firm for digital corporate governance, digital strategy, platform business and adaptive organizations. Previously he was leading transformational programs at Bosch and Deutsche Telekom.
I am working with companies that are preparing for digitally connected markets and that are trying to implement digital services. I often realize that many of them have not (yet) adapted their processes and organizational structures to the new demands that are involved with this change. While they might be aware of the need to be more flexible and innovative to create new IoT based services, they hesitate to overcome the existing hurdles and to ignite change such as interdisciplinary collaboration. This is why we came up with the book Future Legends – Business in Hyper-Dynamic Markets. The book describes how to prepare companies for IoT based digital services and for change as the new normal. We give business leaders a strategic blueprint to survive and profit in these times – and how to turn businesses into future legends.
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