5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I have been getting involved with "cloud" issues in my career for the last couple of years. What I had struggled to find is something that I can pass on to executives to explain what it means from the a business perspective -- the impact it has on competitive strategy, on go-to-market plans, on partner and customer collaboration, etc.
Everything has either been so tech-oriented as to be irrelevant to an executive audience (and frankly most of that I have read on the techie front reads like it was written by a junior copywriter their first year out of school) or it is so high level and puffy with cliche cloud metaphors like "the cloud is going to rain on your parade, can you find the silver lining..."
In contrast, this is the first book I have seen which goes beyond the cliche metaphors, beyond stating the obvious (yeah the Internet continues to change everything, let's move on) yet stays above the fray of data center virtualization and other yawners -- and actually delivers tangible, relatable and actionable information.
The chapter on 'Cloud Economics' is something you can hand to any business executive and get their attention, and understanding. But 'Innovation in the Cloud' is a really a useful primer for understanding and explaining how cloud as a concept and as a collective set of capabilities really can transform business. The bottom line, if your goal is to understand where this is all going (cloud, mobile, social, post-PC interweb, et al.) and you're looking for more concrete info than how to configure a VMware virtual farm, then I highly recommend this book.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2012
I have been reading Thomas Koulopoulos' books since 1997. Each successive book has built on the previous in an evolution of thought and, yet, each appears as fresh and new, as if it was the "ah-ha!" moment of the previous iteration of what was running through Tom's brain at the time. Tom is NOT one of those authors-of-business-books who writes the same book over and over. He has gone from good to great in his writing style, which is much the way he speaks. (If you have never heard him, go to [...].) His message is elegant, intelligent, thoughtful, logical, and rings true. I have enjoyed watching--and participating--in this amazing process of evolution. "Cloud Surfing: A New Way to Think About Risk, Innovation, Scale, and Success" does not disappoint in this regard. As the technology and human behavior changes, Tom's vision advances.
To begin with, "Cloud Surfing" is a wonderful primer on how economics has evolved over the last 150 years. However, Tom points out that we can no longer rely on the lessons of the past to predict the future. The cloud represents a place and time we have never before experienced. We do not know the full impact the cloud will have on the world. To illustrate this paradigm shift, Tom asks hard and thoughtful questions, such as, "What if the context changes?...What if all fears you have today about the way in which the Internet can create risk were eliminated, while all the ways that the Internet creates value were increased?" What if, indeed!
The world is becoming hyperconnected where all systems--economic, social, political, and individuals--are linked together and, most importantly, influencing each other in one big Gordian Knot of complex communities. The number of connections is increasing exponentially daily. The cloud is what will enable these connections to work in harmony with one another. Tom touches on the fearfulness of individuals in open systems and how this fear may manifest in the various systems. Then he effectively busts the twin myths of security and control. It will be interesting to watch, over the next 20 years, the "control" dynamic exerted out of fear by governments, corporations, our education systems, and individuals who try to impose rules and laws or who "drop out" or refuse to engage.
The cloud enables the move to open and transparent systems driven by the value of data. The cloud is zeroing out costs, by fostering a pay-as-you-go, scalable, collaborative social economy. As a result, value creation is accelerated. By aligning value with risk, you can scale your infrastructure, people, and systems in direct proportion to your success. The current paradigm is in structured markets and organizations. This doesn't work in fast-paced markets. We are moving toward a more organic, self-organizing model of doing work. Disruption happens when the outliers create big ideas because they don't "know" something won't work. The cloud is a disrupter, but we keep trying to retrofit the cloud into familiar patterns.
The future is about influence. The cloud facilitates the ability for individuals, enterprises, governments, and education systems to exert influence. The value of that influence will be based on reputation, trust, and integrity. Hyperconnectivity will replace the old models of teaming that don't work anymore. As the children of today reach working age, they will introduce a way of thinking that will result in a restructuring of how we think of intellectual property and the patent process, because they understand that a collaborative model enables creativity. The cloud will facilitate an inversion of the current power structure.
We are in the midst of a "perfect storm." Work has become placeless, ageless, weightless, and complex. Tom examines a number of cloud based organizations, which are already working in this space, such as Elance, LiveOps, Amazon's Mechanical Turk, InnoCentive, and NineSigma. "We are experiencing a democratization of ideas without historic precedent and with little sense for how profound the shift may be." This social economy is resulting in a collaborative workforce that could conceivably span five generations which could hyper-jump innovation with its diversity and richness of ideas.
The cloud has enabled a new way of creating value chains, to the point of developing new, virtual currencies. Cloud-based trading has the effect of busting monopolies. Classic marketing analysis doesn't work anymore. The key to survival is continuously rebuilding the value chain to drive liquidity. Operating in the cloud is the same as operating in the "now."
Tom goes even further--beyond the traditional conversation about the impact on commerce--and discusses the impact of the cloud on modern warfare and on our traditional brick and mortar education system. He talks about how living and working in the cloud affects us as individuals. The cloud will enable situational awareness at an individual level, turning the classic decision making process taught in business schools on its head. In the cloud, decision making is based on relevance, not recall.
Knowledge work is changing from focusing on content to focusing on the work itself. What will enable this is the "case concept," where the case--not the file folder--contains all the components of the work product and facilitates collaboration globally. This is the vision that some have trouble getting their head around (including me), but Tom does a wonderful job of illustrating the concept.
Tom's Afterward is a view of 2020--only 8 years from now. He validates one of my own predictions about the impact of a gaming generation on expectations of value creation, education, conflict management, healthcare, government, and living in general. The cloud is in its adolescence, but the potential for the betterment of the human condition is more real than ever before.
This book is amazing. It will make you think and dream and create. And, when you share that creation, you become a part of the community of cloud builders who are creating the future. Dr. Peter Drucker, Tom's mentor, once said, "The only way to predict the future is to invent it."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2012
Tom Koulopoulos brings energy and enthusiasm to every subject he explores. Cloud Surfing takes the cloud concept to a new level - whether you consider yourself a cloud novice or an expert, there is value in this read. Similar to "The Innovation Zone", Tom challenges you to think in new ways and helps you stretch your mind far beyond traditional concepts. Tom's interest and ability to share his knowledge coupled with his quest to learn from others shows through yet again in this book. I recommend adding Cloud Surfing to your collection for valuable education, reference, motivation, idea generation and just plain good reading. I started with Tom's idea to "rummage about" the book, but find myself not wanting to miss any of it, so I'm headed back to the beginning for the cover to cover approach. Tom ends with "see you in the cloud"' and I'm far more excited about the journey now!
In the Introduction, Thomas Koulopoulos asks, what is the "single greatest phenomenon contributing to global growth, prosperity, and social and political change over the past two hundred years?" I don't what your answer is but mine was wrong. "It is the dramatic increase in connections. Not just an increase in person-to-person connections [but also] an increase in connections between every machine, device, process, and person." What Koulopoulos has in mind - and addresses in this book - involves more, far more than a network of computers "that can be used in the same way as an electric utility." His purpose is to examine and explain a variety of forces "that are driving fundamental changes in behavior for individuals, businesses, and nations."
Koulopoulos provides a wealth of information, insights, and counsel to help prepare his reader to understand issues and achieve strategic objectives such as these:
o What the cloud is...and isn't
o The cloud's most promising potentialities
o The evolution of different cloud models (e.g. "time to community") How each model can deliver value over time
o How to manage the "pull-driven" framework of personalization
o Key considerations: transparency, security, and trust
o How and why mobility is a "killer app"
o Multi-derivative forms of innovation
o The relevance of commerce to alignment of investments, value, and risk
o Cloudsourcing's most promising options and opportunities
I agree with Koulopoulos, "The greatest possession in the coming century will be the community and the connections we form within the cloud." It is important to keep in mind how much more time and effort will be needed as the human race makes its way to what the cloud represents, "the extremities of markets and the economy to which the power has been slowly but surely shifting for centuries." Thomas Koulopoulos concludes his brilliant book with a bold, compelling vision: "Why not move the power further into the hands of the people who make up the communities, to amplify their voices and ambitions well beyond today's constraints?"
Why not indeed.
on August 7, 2012
As a guy who has been running turnarounds, sitting on boards, advising businesses and operating in private equity for well over two decades, I'm acutely aware of the "wallop" of the web on most everything we've all learned about business since I started. To borrow Brian Solis' recent title...."The End Of Business As Usual."
But as much as I have tried to shoot the curl of the rogue wave of the web, Tom's Cloud Surfing let me know, in a very nice way, that I was nowhere close to even paddling for the swell.... for the tsunami of what's actually going on, right now, as you read this.
Not only has Tom recalibrated my thinking about what's driving business and social patterns into new, for many of us, entirely foreign norms these days, he's also given me a cool new set of shades through which to evaluate everything going on around me. In HD! The ability to sound smart at cocktail parties, even with my kids' friends. And to see things that most business people don't
If you want to stay relevant, not left behind, please read this book. Because you haven't got a lot of time. And nowhere will you find a more compelling way to get into the lineup of waves to come.
on October 24, 2012
I am spoiled by having met Tom (we share the same publisher), but he is just as infectious, engaging, intelligent and insightful on these pages as he is in person.
This is not really about about "what" so much as "why"; not so much what to do as how to think. Tom takes a needed step beyond the obvious and goes deep into a subject that would leave most non-techs gasping for air. However, remarkably, he creates a real context around large-scale societal and economic change that will make you lean back and seriously consider the implications for how you lead your business. Your understanding of strategy, risk, invention, collaboration will change before you come close to the last page.
Dispensing with jargon and IT-eliteism, he brings The Cloud down to earth and helps you think more deeply about the tectonic changes that are occurring.
Fresh, smart, relevant.
on June 29, 2012
In the world of technology, a new term emerges- Cloud Surfing. For many of us that are not "computer techies," this was just another word to confuse us! Tom has simplified, explained, and shown the value of such technology. Tom poses thought-provoking questions on how we, as a generation, can influence others, the economy, and the future.
This is a new concept that will make revolutionary changes in our (and the future generations) everyday lives. I found the book sensible, easy to understand, and allowed me to consider using this technology today to prepare for the future. I was skeptical at first, on how such a book could influence my life. After reading Tom's book, I wonder why I hadn't read it sooner.
I would highly recommend this as a must read, for all high school students, to gain a better picture of how "cloud surfing" will impact their futures!
on June 11, 2012
Tom has done it again. For two decades Tom has written one insightful book after another. Yet, as good as all his earlier books have been, Cloud Surfing, is clearly Tom's best effort. What I see as being different about this work is that Tom has addressed a topic that for many people is still a very abstract concept and, as only he can, Tom guides the reader through the fog and explains in an easy to grasp manner how the cloud will fundamentally change each and every person's life. There is no escaping the implications cloud technology will have on how we all live, work and play. If you're wondering what book you should buy for your summer reading, put Cloud Surfing at the top of the list. It's simply that important.
on July 8, 2012
Our brand new computing paradigm has had a major impact on economics, the environment, and the way we all relate to each other. Tom Koulopulus illustrates this impact through a compelling and interesting read. He discusses the impact of the cloud on our economiies, corporations, environment, warfare and interpersonal relationships. Unlike almost everything that has been written so far on "the cloud," Cloud Surving is not a technology book. It is an historical and cultural and social examination of how we work and live in the cloud. I highly recommend it!
on June 11, 2012
If you are looking for a book that will stretch your thinking and help you uncover new ways of doing business then Cloud Surfing is a must read. I work for an innovative crushed stone company and am amazed how the power of the cloud has the ability to radically disrupt the construction industry. I highly recommend reading this book and thinking about how the power of the cloud will impact your industry! Great book!