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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful book about the digital revolution., 18 Feb. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Digital Economy: Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence (Paperback)
I have never considered myself an information "technocrat", but I realize that technology, or more accurately, the effective use of technology is critical to success in business. Books written on technology usually intimidate me with technical details that might as well be written in a foreign language. So, when Don Tapscott's book, The Digital Economy, was recommended to me, I purchased the book thinking it would not hold my interest for more than two chapters. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by a book that grabbed my attention and would not let go. With a balance of case studies, statistical information, and his own model of the new digital economy, Mr. Tapscott wrote a book that describes the opportunities and pitfalls of the new networked economy. For business leaders grappling with the globally networked economy, this book helps put it all in perspective.
As a sequel to his earlier bestseller, Paradigm Shift, Mr. Tapscott takes a strategic look at the technological advances society is making, focusing on how they change the way we interact, communicate, conduct business transactions, learn and play. Mr. Tapscott explains that we are on the brink of a revolution as networked intelligence, coupled with human intelligence, create new economic and societal possibilities. Like the agricultural and industrial age before it, the digital revolution will change the rules of business and the structures that support human interactions. Speed of innovation and flexibility on a grand scale will become critical to success in a digital economy. Product life cycles will be measured in weeks or days, and disintermediation will be a continuing trend that could lead to systemic unemployment. Through this revolutionary period, there will be a blurring of the line between producers and consumers. Tapscott coins the term "prosumers" to describe how we will interact with technology.
With the requirements for success changing, the current best business practices such as Total Quality Management (TQM) and Business Process Reengineering (BPR) will not be enough to ensure survival in the future. Theses efforts focus on improving current business processes rather than inventing new processes, markets, and products. Tapscott urges his readers to focus on ways to add value in a new and rapidly changing economy. Because the digital economy makes information inexpensive, Tapscott speaks of the movement from an economy based on mass production to an economy based on mass customization. Already, Levi's will "build" you a customized pair of jeans. Those who success in this new digital economy must be willing to challenge their own thinking, make their own products obsolete, and continuously look for ways to add value to those they serve.
Mr. Tapscott took great care to provide a balanced view of the networked revolution. As digital interchange allows people separated by great distances to share creative ideas, it also increases the risk of individuals becoming isolated. At the same time, we risk losing our privacy as personal information can be extracted from multiple sources. Tapscott speaks of the swift punishment corporations and individuals who do not "keep up with technology" can expect and of the societal risk we all encounter when we consider the possibility of a bipolar society based on technology "haves" and "have nots". Reminding us of our responsibility to each other and to society as a whole, Tapscott challenges us to make the most of the possibilities while remaining cognizant of all the risks.
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