- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (December 6, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1610396669
- ISBN-13: 978-1610396660
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 36 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Signals Are Talking: Why Today?s Fringe Is Tomorrow?s Mainstream Hardcover – December 6, 2016
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An Amazon Best Book of December 2016: At this moment, it seems obvious that we could all stand to brush up on our skills as prognosticators. And not just so we can avoid being blindsided by seismic elections, but because technology promises to continue its disruptive march through our societies and economies. What will cabbies do when cars are self-driving, and what will warehouse workers do when robots can pick, pack, and ship without lunch breaks and health care benefits? Forget NAFTA; the shift is toward Silicon Valley. But where to start? The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream is a good place. Sitting somewhere between Nate Silver and The Tipping Point, Amy Webb's book provides a practical guide for leaders - at any level - in the age of Big Data, offering tools for picking out the “true signal, a pattern that will coalesce into a trend with the potential to change everything” - and land on the right side of disruption. --Jon Foro, The Amazon Book Review
"The clear, insightful, and humorous Amy Webb has crafted a rare treasure: a substantive guide written in a narrative that's a delight to read. While most futurologists want guru status through a few Nostradamus-like visions that never materialize, Webb modestly reports with depth and discipline, and creates a system and tools we can all use to better navigate the future. Through her deep research, specific anecdotes, and brilliant insights, she has performed the selfless but hugely valuable act of teaching us all to fish at the fringe." --Christopher J. Graves, chairman, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide
"Amy Webb, with insight and a big dose of pragmatism, shows how to clearly see the next big disruption and then take action before it strikes." --Ram Charan, advisor to CEOs and corporate boards, author of The Attackers Advantage, and coauthor of Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
"Forecasting the future is a challenging-and absolutely necessary-part of every leader's job. In this ambitious and timely book, Amy Webb shows not only how to identify actual trends and surprises emerging from the fringes but-even more important-how to do something about them so you can thrive in the face of the unexpected."--Craig Newmark, founder,Craigslist
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Webb also does this backwards engineering with her own predictions, recounting how she predicted the trend in voice-based digital assistants. I'm more interested in her actual predictions of the actual future though. I already know voice-based digital assistants are big now - I'd rather she went out on a limb, took a risk, and told me what she thinks will happen in 2025 and why.
Regarding the teaching section, there are some infographics and broad questions included, but it feels like reading a fluff online article or infographic. Pretty to look at but generally not specifically actionable. Who is the audience for this book? CEOs trying to predict the future themselves? (Doubtful, they would just hire her) Laypeople who want to predict the future? (You're not going to come away feeling like you have an action plan, only an idea of what Webb did in the past) Laypeople who want to read some interesting predictions and not a history of Uber? (Very light on the actual predictions, but they were the most interesting part).
I did love Webb's memoir book, Data: A Love Story, and I think she can write well at a technical level if the ideas and overall topic are better thought-out and organized. If she writes another book along those lines, perhaps I'll give her writing another try.
Ordinarily, I can go through books like these in a few hours, but Ms. Web's book, even though relatively short, took me a few weeks. Why? Because every chapter required reading in small bites, thinking through the implications, jotting down notes and occasionally arguments, and in general studying it.
What Amy Webb has written is no less than a primer on how to be a futurist. She lays down a coherent methodology for identifying the unusual suspects that are often at the forefront of technological and (perhaps less forcefully social) innovation, mapping out the signals as parts of broader trends, establishing time lines and viability, creating scenarios that tells the story of the impacts of this innovation, testing those scenarios with stakeholders and then building a strategy for organizations to best utilize this research to position themselves in the market.
This book should be a must read for organizational strategists, investors, technologists, politicians, data scientists and science fiction authors, really, anyone whose business or area of concern is dealing with the deluge of change around us. It also helps to differentiate between what is "shiny", which often makes for great click bait but never quite materializes, and what are the deeper trends that often occur over decades, and are usually the result of multiple converging and competing factors.
I would like to see a followup to The Signals Are Talking that digs more in depth into the realm of predictive analytics and how the two complement, and occasionally compete, with one another. Nonetheless I cannot recommend the Signals Are Talking high enough.
Except in some cases when they aren't. Many people look at those who "guessed right" and either think they are extremely brilliant - or extremely lucky.
This book helps disprove both of those assumptions. This book gives clear direction for what to look for, how to analyze and review those data points, and how to string together those signals to theorize what may be coming next. Here in early 2017, we all need to be able to analyze what's on the fringe and see how it connects to make tomorrow's mainstream - sometimes only a few weeks away, and sometimes a decade.
Highly recommend the book, and looking forward to sharing it.