Book Club

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What is the Book Club

The goal of this section is not to revive old poetry (I am not Robin Williams and this is no Dead Poets Society) nor to argue how Harry Potter movies books are better than the movies (who would even argue on that...). The idea is to provide you with a list of enlightening books about digitalization and the related topics.

The Innovator Dilemma by C.M. Christensen

This is a book that has been mentioned a few times throughout the course (namely, in the chapter on E-commerce and on Digital Disruption). In it, the Harvard teacher Christensen extensively explains the trade-off between sustaining and disruptive innovation and explains why the incumbent companies cannot focus resources on a niche market that fosters disrupting technologies and rather continue improving their main product through sustaining innovation. The main risk is that these incumbents will tend to overshoot the customers' expectation and leave a gap for disruptive technologies which will come and challenge their business model. The key concepts and topics of the book are explained in this short video.

Cover of the book from Wikipedia

The Lean Startup by E. Ries

The trigger for this book was to observe how many startups fail. Eric Ries understood that there was a key issue in the way entrepreneurs used their resources in a bad way. He emphasizes that a startup should be agile, test, and learn. TO do so, the author presents a new methodology inspired by the Lean paradigm. In short, the idea is to develop a minimum viable product with very minimal functions and then develop new functions, analyze their efficiency and impact on demand and satisfaction, and then adapt your product or plan to match what you have noticed.

Perhaps the most key insight from the book is this lean startup mindset doesn't only apply to SMEs but is necessary for all innovation projects even in the biggest companies. Therefore, I reckon that this book would be an amazing asset when you try to implement new technologic solutions in a firm. If you're interested, the book is better summarized in this video.

Cover of the book from Wikipedia

Le Travail Invisible by P-Y. Gomez

Let me introduce a Frenchie in the library. This is one of my personal favorites because of all the interesting challenges it raises. The main topic of the book is explaining the financialization of the economy continuously makes workers more transparent by hiding them and their work behind financial results. He also presents some key paths to revalorize the real work by recognizing its subjective and relational dimensions which stand today in the shadow of the objective dimension of work (its financial outcomes). I am convinced that this is essential to take into account while implementing a new automated, standardized process which gives less importance to the individual ways of doing things and makes workers and personal relations even more invisible. Let us remember that digital changes should be complemented with organizational changes and that these should valorize the work in all of its dimensions. For the French speakers among you, listen to the author's own words.

Cover of the book from Wikipedia

Mindfuck : Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America by Cristopher Wylie

The author of this book is the whistleblower of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. As he worked in Cambridge analytics, he tells us is story from an inside point-of-view. At the beginning of his work at Cambridge Analytica, what was at the beginning of data analysis and use transform itself in a huge and massive weapon of data mining and psychological manipulation. It all begin by receiving data and grouping people who manifest interest or other traits in common and it finished by manipulating the issue of the election of Donald Trump, the referendum of the Brexit and so on. Worth to read.

The Shallows by Nicholas G. Carr

This book was introduced as a comment on the fact that digitalization has a clear impact on our skills as a human. As an example the professor mentioned the case about the fact that the younger generation had a difficult time coordinating themselves in Greenland without GPS compared to an older generation. This is due to the fact that if you don't use a skill for a time you destroy some existing neural connections. Nicholas Carr expands in his book The Shallow on themes such as "is Google making us stupid?" and also the effects of the internet on our brains.

Cover of the book from Wikipedia

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

A book in which the author asks several questions about the impact of technological disruption on our lives by making strong links between several topics such as democratic principles, freedom of expression, privacy, the medical sector and nanotechnology and many other subjects. With this technological breakthrough that we are experiencing, aren't we getting closer to what could be God-like? All of these issues are brilliantly approached by yuval noah in his book Homo Deus.

Cover of the book from Yuval Noah Harri website


IT doesn't matter by Nicholas G. Carr

This book is worth mentioning in the book list because in every digital course you can see this title passing by somewhere. In this book Nicholas G. Carr discusses that IT has become a commodity and that it cannot be perceived as the foundation of a competitive advantage. IT can be used to supplement and improve strategy implementation but not provide you with a competitive advantage.

Cover of the book IT doesn't matter by Nicholas G. Carr

Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities by Vaclav Smil

This scientific book aims at assessing every growth process in the world though statistics. It is a compelling book that shows the importance of analytics in very different area of life, from natural resources to machineries for instance. Furthermore, it is worth noting that understanding growth is capital because it is the main issue of our times. How to deal with our need of growth and climate change? It is briefly discussed between Bill Gates (who strongly recommends the book, for the Microsoft lovers) and Vaclav Smil in this short video. Obviously, the complete reading is necessary. In a nutshell, the book describes our world through analytics which gives insight to understand some underlying processes of the environment we live in. Very interesting, especially for those who want to follow a data analytics carreer and bring great solutions to great challenges.

Cover of the book Growth by V. Smil

The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster

After presenting a couple of non-fictional books related to digitalization and IT, The Machine Stops written by E.M. Foster is a fictional science-fiction short story published in 1909.

Next to H.G. Wells' Time Machine, it is nowadays considered as being one of the books that created science-fiction. With terrifying accuracy, Forster manages present a society that is not so different to the one we live now. And he managed to do that over 100 years ago!? As Will Gompertz from the BBC points out:

If it had been written today it would be excellent, that it was written over a century ago is astonishing.
- Will Gompertz

In that world, people live isolated in their capsules. And as they have all the necessary technological equipment, they don't see why they should leave their place. They can communicate between each other with some sort of post (like email or Whatsapp), they chat online and have video calls and conferences, they have an Alexa-like machine that answers them every question. In other words, the machine controls them.

A book for everyone who is interested to read how accurate our world has been predicted. Now the question you might have: what happens when the machine stops? I guess it is about time to find out.

Cover of the book The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation is a science-fiction novel published in 2014 by Jeff VanderMeer. It is the first of a series of three Books called the Southern Reach Trilogy.
Four nameless women cross the border into Area X, which has been contained for thirty years by the mysterious Southern Reach agency. The story of what happens next is recorded by the biologist in her field journal. She and her companions—an anthropologist, a surveyor, and a psychologist—are all part of the twelfth expedition into Area X. An area of which not much is known, unless that it is constantly propagating and people who enter it never come back or die months after coming home. It's unique style differentiates itself from common science-fiction books because of its alternative form of writing.

Nothing that lived and breathed was truly objective—even in a vacuum, even if all that possessed the brain was a self-immolating desire for the truth.
- Biologist

In 2018, a loose adaption of the novel was published on Netflix.

Cover of the book Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, first novel of the Southern Reach Trilogy

The Rise of the Robots: Technology and Threat of Mass Unemployment by Martin Ford

This book is interesting because it gives a clear vision of the real impact of robots and the digitalisation of companies on their employees and the position they occupy. Ah it is known, Intelligent algorithms are on their way to replace many jobs. Indeed, not only travel agents, data analysts and legal assistants will be replaced by robots, but also doctors, cab drivers or even computer programmers will be replaced. In this book, technology expert Martin Ford highlights the societal implications of artificial intelligence based on economic data; it is interesting for us business engineers to see the link between economics and AI. He clearly points and predicts that all jobs that are on some level routine will be automated at some point and that the implications of it could lead to a societal catastrophe (death of traditional careers and collapse of the middle class).

The problem, he said, wasn’t going to solve itself: “Too many people are coming into the labor market and too many machines are throwing people out.”
- Martin Ford

Cover of the book The Rise of Robots: Technology and Threat of Mass Unemployment by Martin Ford

1984 by George Orwell

Be careful, Big Brother is watching you

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a dystopian social science fiction novel, published in 1949. The book depicts a society in an imagined future, under the control of "Big Brother", kind of headmaster who controls the entire society, that nobody knows or has never seen but to whom everybody listens and obeys. The novel addresses different issues such as the consequences of totalitarianism, mass surveillance, and repressive regimentation of behaviors in the society.

The main topics covered are thoughtful and innovative for the time: nationalism, futurology, censorship and surveillance. Quite visionary and very interesting to read now (in 2020) given that George Orwell started to write this novel in 1948. A parallelism with our society could be very interesting, regarding digital challenges and issues derived from it.


Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The novel examines a futuristic society, called the World State, that revolves around science and efficiency. In this society, emotions and individuality are conditioned out of children at a young age, and there are no lasting relationships because “every one belongs to every one else” (a common World State dictum)

A brave new world .jpg

Zero to One by Peter Thiel, Blake Masters

Zero to one is one of the reference book for on entrepreneurship and how to create value in this world. In particular, it includes the different methods that have been used by Peter Thiel, one of the founders of Paypal, SpaceX or Linkedln, to create several revolutionary companies. It supports this notion of creation with different examples, allowing, as its name suggests, to go from 0 - the vacuum - to 1 - the first creation. How to achieve this when you are an entrepreneur? Read this book, and you'll already have many answers to achieve this goal... with the use of digital as a bonus.

Make incremental advances, stay lean and flexible, improve on the competition, focus on product and not sales are some points explained in the book. And obviously, one of the way to do it is by using the technology and digitalization.

Cover of the Zero to One by Peter Thiel, Blake Masters

AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee

"In his book AI Superpowers, Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, one of the world's most respected experts on AI and China, forcefully states that because of these unprecedented developments in AI, dramatic changes will occur much sooner than many of us expected. Indeed, as competition between the United States and China in the AI field begins to intensify, Lee urges the United States and China to accept and embrace the great responsibilities that come with being a major technological power. Most experts are already saying that AI will have a devastating impact on blue-collar jobs. But Lee predicts that Chinese and American AI will also have a strong impact on white-collar jobs. Is a universal basic income the solution? According to Lee, probably not. But he clearly describes which jobs will be affected and in what timeframe, which jobs can be improved with AI, and most importantly, how we can provide solutions to some of the most profound changes in human history that will soon occur."

Cover of "AI Superpowers" by Kai-Fu Lee

L'intelligence artificielle, notre meilleur espoir

It is written in French by Badr Boussabat. This book aims at explaining the challenges and opportunities AI will generate. The book is divided in several topics. For example, one chapter explains the GAFA and their impact. Another chapter explains the challenges about privacy and the PGDP. The author also tries to predict the future and to point out how it will evolute.

If you are interested in this topic, I pointed out the main topics of the book, in my opinion, in the following page: AI and development

AI Badr.jpg

Designed for Digital: How to Architect Your Business for Sustained Success

This English book written b Jeanne W. Ross, Cynthia M. Beath and Martin Mocker, explains the 5 blocks you have to implement in your company in order to build a sustainable company that is technologically driven.

"Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI" by Paul R. Daugherty and H. James (Jim) Wilson

"In Human + Machine, Accenture executives Paul R. Daugherty and H. James (Jim) Wilson show that the essence of the change in perspective on AI involves a transformation of all business processes within an organization, whether they are related to groundbreaking innovation, daily customer service, or personal productivity habits. As humans and intelligent machines work more closely together, work processes become more fluid and flexible, allowing companies to change them on the fly - or re-imagine them completely. AI is changing all the rules by which companies operate."

Cover of "Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI"

"Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence" by Ajay K. Agrawal, Avi Goldfarb and Joshua Gans

"In Prediction Machines, three leading economists reformulated the rise of AI as a decrease in the cost of prediction. In doing so, they lift the veil on all the hype around AI and show how the basic tools of economics are bringing clarity to the AI revolution and a basis for action for CEOs, managers, policy makers, investors and entrepreneurs."

Cover of "Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence"

"The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives" by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler

"In their book: "The Future Is Faster Than You Think", Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler want to give us an insight into how our world will change as a result of the next ten years of rapid technological change."

Cover of "The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives"

"Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence" by Max Tegmark

"In his book: "Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence", Max Tegmark, explores how artificial intelligence will affect different areas, be it crime, war, justice, the world of work, society and our sense of being human."

Cover of "Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence"

"Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation" by George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, Andrew McAfee

"In this 2014 book, the three authors state that digital is not only for tech companies. In order to not lag behind, nearly every business should think of the implication of digitalization on its activities and this book gives advice on how to lead a successful digital transformation."

Cover of "Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation"

"Competing in the Age of AI: Strategy and Leadership When Algorithms and Networks Run the World" by Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani

"The main goal of "Competing in the Age of AI: Strategy and Leadership When Algorithms and Networks Run the World" is to demonstrate how AI and data-driven analytics can help businesses to achieve greater success thanks to the inherent capacity of these technologies to break down barriers. "

Cover of "Competing in the Age of AI: Strategy and Leadership When Algorithms and Networks Run the World"

"The Power of Experiments. Decision Making in a Data-Driven World." By Michael Luca and Max H. Bazerman

""The Power of Experiments" came out in 2020 and has been written by two Harvard professors in Business Administration in order to give a glimpse of how platforms we use everyday as users are testing the impact of new features or potential major changes while we use it and uncover some of the best practices in the industry."

Cover of "The Power of Experiments Decision Making in a Data-Driven World"