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Out of The Box: Strategies for Achieving Profits Today and Growth Tomorrow Through Web Services Hardcover – October 28, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"Out of the Box is a thoughtful examination of how web services can provide real agility and help leaders in any business realize their company’s true potential." - Steve Ballmer, Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft

"Out of the Box provides a practical road map to the information age. In the never-ending chase of ‘better, faster, and cheaper’ business models, Hagel has written in simple English a guide to how Web services can enable businesses to leverage their existing technology while incrementally implementing new and more flexible business models. This is a must-read for any executive who expects to compete in the information age." —Bill Coleman, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Strategy Officer, BEA Systems

"Through simple, straightforward steps, Out of the Box deftly shows how Web services can lead to important increases in a corporation’s profitability and performance. Easy to read, easy to understand, and action-oriented, this book should be read by any manager wanting to get—and stay—ahead of the competition. John Hagel is one of the clearest thinking and straightest talking analysts in the United States today." —Richard N. Foster, Director, McKinsey & Company

"John Hagel has done it again with another compelling look at the role of technology in today’s turbulent business arena. Out of the Box should be on every leader’s desk. Your business and your customers will thank you for it." —Raymond Lane, General Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

"Web services has the potential to be as fundamental in driving the transformation of the technology landscape as IP networks and HTML were in the ’90s. Hagel has always been at the forefront of each major paradigm shift, and now has done a great job in outlining a new roadmap for business and technology leaders to follow to leverage the opportunities Web services afford us." —John McKinley, Chief Technology Officer, Merrill Lynch

"Hagel effectively answers the ‘So What?’ question about Web services and its impact on business. Out of the Box is an excellent strategy guide for understanding the next ‘big wave’ of productivity and business functionality improvement and should be required reading for every manager." —Tony Scott, Chief Technology Officer, IS&S, General Motors

"A refreshing change from the scores of how-to books on technology topics. Out of the Box casts the next generation of software technologies in exactly the right context for today’s focus on execution and business results. His concepts are clear and insightful, and provide valuable tools for business and technology leaders." —Mark Tolliver, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Sun Microsystems

About the Author

John Hagel III is a business consultant based in Silicon Valley, and is coauthor of two best-selling books, Net Gain and Net Worth. He has served as a senior executive with various technology companies and spent sixteen years as a Partner at McKinsey & Company, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (October 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578516803
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578516803
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,293,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Nigel Seel on February 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The story in web services to date has been told by the technologists. That is why we see an endless supply of articles about XML, SOAP, WSDL, UDDI and the rest of the WSxL alphabet soup. Ditto for the .NET vs. Java wars. It's time to transition from architectures and protocols to business models - how does any of this help to run a business faster, better, cheaper? Enter John Hagel, who spent sixteen years as a Partner with McKinsey, and has recently set up his own consultancy company.
Hagel starts by noting that web services is the first IT technology which supports an organic and self-adaptive organisational model of the enterprise. Hagel introduces "the Service Grid". Above the computing and network protocols there is a conceptually-distinct layer of functionality which has to be there to make web services fly. We need solutions to problems such as: security; transaction integrity; billing; orchestration of functions; and in particular ontologies - the standardisation of the meanings of entities and attributes within and between businesses. (Note the "semantic web" activity in W3C).
Many people assume web services are just a re-run of the "application service provision" experiment we saw a couple of years ago. In chapter 3, Hagel provides an excellent review of the ASP wave, the business requirements which drove it and the reasons why the experiment failed. Business were keen to move from a license to a subscription model, they wanted to use enterprise application services without investing in technology and operations. But CIOs were worried about the performance and security of Internet-provided applications, and concerned that if ASPs went out of business, their own companies would be left in a lurch (and the CIO would lose his/her job!).
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By T. Noyes on November 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John's book is very well written, and the subject matter is timely. But the fact remains that the content is a 200k foot vision. Web services is the next BUZZ and the hype machine is being driven by consultants, software vendors and authors (constantly looking to create case for change).
I have been in front of 30 of the Fortune 100 CIOs, and heavily involved in high tech initiatives. Few production operations do anything beyond traditional EDI, and file transfer. The case studies within this book (ex Dell and Cisco) are very mis-leading. In both cases the suppliers, CMs and 3PLs are largely (90%) translating EDI to hub specific XML formats. Which leads me to believe that: a) the execs at Cisco and Dell don't know what is going on, b) case studies are part of the hype, c) not properly interpreted.
Integration and exposing web services is too expensive, which is why few companies have sucessful hubs or service based architectures. This book confuses business strategy and software "mechanics". I would make the case that there are very few truly "new" things in software.
The connected business models which have matured are prospering in EDI particularly within Aerospace and Automotive. What "new" business models are supported by WebServices? What is the case for change from EDI? What is the cost of implenting now? The opportunity cost for waiting until they are packaged in latest version of ERP? ... Many questions that need to be answered.
If you are looking for a good vision book, on what is possible, then this is a very good book. However, there needs to be some critical mass of success stories before mainstream business starts to act on these ideas. As well as an assessment of cost.
I do agree with John that Business Strategy must be the driver. My question is why are we confusing the software mechanics of interaction with the strategy?
Tom Industry Analyst
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Co-author of two previous bestsellers (Net Gain and Net Worth), Hagel has now written what I expect to be his most influential work thus far. In it, he identifies and then discusses "strategies for achieving profits today and growth tomorrow through Web services." First, I want to express my admiration of the Foreword which John Seely Brown provides. Unlike most other such introductions, it offers substantial benefits of its own to the careful reader in addition to "setting the table" for the "banquet" which Hagel serves. I agree with Brown that decision-makers in all organizations (regardless of size or nature) must break out of the mental models and other barriers which hold them back. As he correctly observes, "The challenge for all of us over time will be to develop a deeper understanding of the practices required to create and capture even more economic value." It is indeed a formidable challenge to overcome what Jim O'Toole once characterized as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." I also agree with Brown that Hagel provides in this book both the counsel and inspiration to do so effectively.
It is important to keep in mind that Hagel views technology as a means by which to increase the effectiveness of a given strategy. That is to say, a commitment to providing Web services should be driven by an appropriate strategy. At a time when change is the only constant, when those involved in a competitive marketplace must (in effect) thrive to survive, the importance of having an effective strategy is incalculable. I agree with Hagel that one of the most important lessons learned since the 1980s is that "information technology is at best a catalyst and an enabler. It is never an answer in itself." Nor could it be.
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