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What Would Google Do? Hardcover – January 27, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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In short, this is one long love letter to Google. If Google were a human being, Jeff Jarvis would be the stalker.
While there are many things that Google does right and can be both helpful and beneficial to mankind, there are many areas in which it needs to improve or, at least, be more respectful. However, in this book, Google can do no wrong.
Worried about your privacy? Pshaw. Google just needs all that information about you in order to organize itself better to serve up more relevant results for you. Tired of seeing ads everywhere? Hey, that's how Google can give you what it does for "free" (and provide some income for the masses who serve up their ads).
It's well written and simple to follow. As long as you know you're reading fawning hype for Google, you'll be OK.
1. New Relationship [Give the people control and we will use it],
2. New Architecture [Enable people by thinking distributed],
3. New Publicness [Findability: Drink the Google Juice],
4. New Society [Facebook's Zuckerberg defines "elegant organization" of existing communities of practice],
5. New Economy [Economy of Abundance; the Mass Market is replaced by masses of Niche markets],
6. New Business Reality [What Business are you really in?],
7. New Attitude [Inverse relationship between control and trust - letting go and listening],
8. New Ethic [Life is beta - be transparent with disclosure; Don't be Evil],
9. New Speed [En vivo], and
10. New Imperatives [Change now, protect innovation (not property), simplify, get out of the consumer's way].
These ten [eight?] qualities he generously dons as: Google Rules. This phrase is of interest because both words can serve as both a noun and a verb.
The Google Rules are simple; the consumer is in control, and business should look for ways to enable the consumer to co-create. The author emphasizes this thesis with several examples and then provides a futuristic outlook on major industries if they began to apply these principles: Google Times (print media), Googlewood (entertainment media), Google Power & Light (An initiative of [...] applied), GT&T (cell phones), Googlemobile (auto), Google Cola, Google Real Estate, Google Capital (banking), Google Mutual (insurance), St. Google Hospital, Google University, and audaciously, the United States of Google.
This book clearly delivers the message of rethinking marketing strategy and encourages firms to let go of control to gain trust. The idea that consumers rule alters the paradigm of strategy: from the traditional Theory X strategy of control to a Theory Y strategy of co-creation. Enabling customers, not interrupting them, will be essential to find success in the new global and digital economy.
Although this book is indeed a "must read," it is not without its limitations. The first read of the book was enlightening and exciting, the second read (about 2 weeks later), was not so enchanting for mainly two reasons. One, the author tries to correlate all things Open Source (the gift economy) with Google, when in fact the Open Source community has been thriving long before Google existed. Google's success is in part because the ideals of the Open Source community align well with Google's strategy; that does not mean Google created the gift economy. Google is indeed enabling the gift economy -- an economy of abundance. Jarvis just paints the landscape a bit too broadly.
The second limitation of the book was the strategic rigor. Examples are useful, but how does a restaurant owner really apply the ideals of the "Google Eats?" As a student of marketing strategy, and as an internet marketing consultant, the initial read was encouraging--I felt like I wanted to buy 10 copies and send to all my clients to help them "get it." As the ideas settled, I felt wanting more. Why is the world changing this way? How do managers make transitions? How will Google Rules effect the real companies of the world (e.g., GM), not fictitious worlds of possibilities (Googlemobile -- What if Google ran an auto company).
Another example of the lack of rigor relates to the issue of transparency. Early in the book he gives an example of "Dell Hell" and talks about customer revenge and retaliation. Although anecdotal, there are some key drivers/issues related to consumer backlash (Google Scholar Search on Customer Revenge [Gregoire]), yet those drivers are not discussed. For example, in an article title "When Good Brands Do Bad" the personality of the brand is very important in determining how consumers react to service failures -- Jarvis is saying to be the Fun personality type (new age) and not the traditional Sincere personality type.
As an enjoyable read I give the book 9/10. As a platform to encourage openness (e.g., Open Innovation) I give the book 9/10. In terms of getting to the nitty-gritty solutions of the real world, I find the book lacking -- I give the book 6/10. That results in an overall 4/5 stars.
[This is NOT a book about Google but about strategy Google uses that could be applied by others.]
First Salesman: "We lose money on every sale."
Second Salesman: "How do you do it without going out of business?"
First Salesman: "We make it up in volume."
In an economy fueled by social networks, data and technology, companies that want to thrive need to replace questions like `HOW MUCH can we make from each transaction?' with questions like `HOW LITTLE can we charge and still get by?'
According to Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?, businesses that rely on the formerly-reliable `law of supply & demand' to guide financial strategies are likely to fail in today's economy. Why? Scarcity doesn't ensure value. IF ANYTHING, it attracts a wide field of competitors striving to underprice you and deliver your once-scare commodity faster.
"Scarcity was about control: those who controlled a scare resource could set the price for it. Not anymore,"Jarvis said. "Google has found a business model based on creating , exploiting and managing abundance. The more content there is for it to organize, and the more places there are for it to place ads, the better."
Read the rest of the review here: [...]
Overall it is a good read, read it as though you are talking to a geeky friend about Web 2.0 You would love the book.
Top international reviews
At first, it may appear that the answer is obvious. Google is hugely successful. Google is very different from many companies that have gone before. Lots of firms talk about wanting to be the next Google. Google makes lots of money. Google has lots of users. And so on. So surely trying to learn from Google makes sense?
But probe into that question more deeply and the situation is rather more complicated.
First, there's the traditional outlier issue. Google is unusually large and profitable. So is it a rare exception from which the rest of us therefore cannot learn that much or is it really the path-breaker for the rest of us to follow?
Second, there's the question of permanence. There have been many firms who have briefly been top of the pile, widely admired and the focus of numerous books telling people how to be like them. In the computing and internet area, there have been several waves with the previous dominant companies usually disappearing from the scene. Microsoft is highly unusual in having stayed on top for so long. IBM and Apple both soared and crashed and soared again. All three in their different ways have stood the test of time, whilst Google is sitll a relative newbie. So if you want to learn lessons for the future, why not turn to Microsoft, IBM and Apple instead or at least in addition to Google?
Therein lie both the best and the most frustrating aspects of Jeff Jarvis's book. To his credit, the book acknowledges the existence of firms such as Apple which are highly successful and don't follow the Google route. As Jarvis himself says of Apple:
"Apple flouts Jarvis' First Law. Hand over control to the customer? You must be joking. Steve Jobs controls all ... Apple is the opposite of collaborative ... The company could not be more one-way and less transparent."
And so on. Many books full of breathless excitement about the future overlook even the really obvious counter examples. To Jarvis' credit he doesn't, but what makes the book frustrating it that he both only considers a very narrow range of exceptions and then also largely dismisses them as one-off exceptions. Look again though at the Fortune 500. Those "exceptions" are actually dominant when it comes to running successful large businesses. It is Google that is much more the exception.
He himself admits - in an eminently likable way - that it's not all about doing things like Google:
"I confess: I'm a hypocrite. If I had followed my own rules - if I had eaten my own dog food - you wouldn't be reading this book right now, at least not as a book. You'd be reading it online, for free, having discovered it via links and search. You'd be able to correct me, and I'd be able to update this book with the latest amazing stats about Google ... But I did have to make money from a publisher's advance. That is why you are reading this as a book. Sorry."
Where the book works best is where Jeff Jarvis makes points that aren't just followed by Google, but by an increasing number of other large firms, as with the idea of thinking distributed: get your content or your service out in front of people in as many different places and formats and via as many different routes as possible. It's not just Google whose audience is far more than simply the people who come to the main website.
Google is also rather less saintly that Jarvis paints it. He's lucky that his experience of Google is that, "Its stuff just works. I rarely hear people complain about them". Take a look at the streams of complaint online from people who have had problem with Google's services such as Blogger and been unable to get a response and you will see that the story is much more mixed.
The book has many good points, including the first hand account of how Jeff Jarvis fell out with Dell, laid into them online and so triggered one of the most frequently quoted case studies as the incident revolutionised Dell's approach to online engagement. Not bad at all for one unhappy customer.
It also picks up many persuasive examples of how the Google way of doing things could change other sectors, such as the restaurant one. Imagine a restaurant where on the menu you could see what other diners though of different dishes and which bottles of wine they chose to go with the main course you're going to have. Imagine the immediate benefits for the restaurant in terms of knowing which dishes work and which don't, and the attraction for diners of a richer - but useful - set of information. Then get more adventurous and imagine letting people suggest changes to the recipes and have social networks develop amongst diners to keep them coming back.
So whilst I'm dubious about the underlying premise of the book, there are plenty of individual examples and colour in to make What Would Google Do? a lively read likely to stimulate many ideas.
The first title Jarvis probably thought of was "The cultural difference between Americans and Brits". The first few chapters are full of example stories of how Jarvis bought a Dell computer, complained, and ended up interviewing Michael Dell (the founder of Dell) himself, and how Jarvis have advised most of the biggest companies on the Internet in ways they could improve.
Jarvis is one of those people who always seems know someone at every company in the World, and probably worked there (sorry, advised them to make them better) at some stage too.
If you (and I'm talking to Brits here) can stand those types of bold claims and self promotion, of which I'm not disputing the accuracy of the claims -- just how liberally they're used through the book; you'll move on to the second part. This part deals with the actual title - how would Google run a restaurant, a hospital, a law firm, and many other industries.
Jarvis is quite creative with his thoughts, although if you any of the industries you can't help but admire his naivety at lack of understanding that industry. That naivety is precisely at the core of how Jarvis thinks Google approach any industry though - they reinvent it specifically without wanting to understand how it's been done before.
The final part of the book is a long essay into what Jarvis thinks is good and bad about the Internet, and full of promotion about his blog - why he blogs, how he blogs, why he's so great - and then we're back to that same American style which is probably admired in USAland and sneered at in the UK.
WWGD (as Jarvis calls the book) is an OK read. The book is extremely simplistic - for example it lightly touches with the issue of WHY Google goes into certain industries (to capture more search traffic, more personal/crowd/industry insight data) - he only deals with the end user's perspective. If you work for one of the industries that Jarvis uses as a case study of being Google-ised, you'll sit there nodding your head saying to the book "No, that's not how my industry works" - which is the whole point of the book really.
If you are passionate about digital business and the new digital economy this book should be a must in you list.
Die Beschreibung von Google und modernen Internetfirmen ist durchaus lehrreich. Die Schwäche des Buchs liegt in der Argumentation, dass die Erfahrungen des Suchmaschinenkonzerns auf die materielle Produktion übertragbar seien.
Dass dem nicht so ist, zeigt nicht nur Apple, sondern auch der Autor selbst: Nach eigener Aussage hat er dieses Buch geschrieben, um Geld zu verdienen, ansonsten schreibt er lieber an seinem Blog. Als Blog veröffentlicht wäre das Buch auch Spitze, für ein Buch reicht der Tiefgang nicht. Ein selbstbewusster Lektor hätte das Buch vermutlich auf die Hälfte gekürzt, dann wäre es sehr lesenswert.
Next suggested read.. Googlization of Everything- Siva V