Code Halos: A book review by Bob Morris

Code HalosCode Halos: How the Digital Lives of People, Things, and Organizations are Changing the Rules of Business
Malcolm Frank, Paul Roehrig, and Ben Pring
John Wiley & Sons (2014)

How and why halo issues are, in fact, business issues for everyone involved in the given enterprise, 4 July 2014

So, what’s a Code Halo? Is it what virtuous spies, geeks, and quants receive upon entrance to heaven? No. According to Malcolm Frank, Paul Roehrig, and Ben Pring, “A Code Halo is the field of digital information that surrounds any noun – any person, place, or thing. More often than not, that virtual self can provide more insight into – and thus generate more value from – the physical entity alone.” The more information — relevant information — that can be obtained about a given person, the brighter that person’s halo will shine. Consider the results of six companies that have taken the greatest advantage of such information: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Pandora, and Netflix. They comprise what the co-authors characterize as the “First Trillion Club.” In 2003, their combined market capitalization was $1.2 trillion. Ten years later, it was at least 40 times greater. Consider, also, the fate of those who competed with them: Borders, Nokia, MySpace, Yahoo!, HMV, and Blockbuster.

The more information — to repeat, relevant information — a company has about its customers, the better prepared it is to accommodate their needs, interests, dreams, concerns, goals, and preferences. How to do this? Read and then re-read this book with appropriate care, highlighting key material and recording notes in a lined notebook while doing so.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Frank, Roehrig, and Pring’s coverage.

o The Five Business Code Halos: Overview (Pages 28-32)
o Employee Code Halos: New Ways for Team Members to Connect and Solve Problems (33-34)
o The Partner Code Halo: Weaver of Webs (34-35)
o The Enterprise Code Halo: Brand Aggregator (35-37)
o The Amplifier: The Internet of Things Is a Network of Code Halo Amplifiers (39-43)
o Successful Algorithms Power Code Connections and Create Insight (47-48)
o Business Analytics Drives Both Cost Containment and Revenue Growth (91-96)
o Actions that leadership teams can take to make Code Halos “fundamentally attractive and compelling” (103-116)
o Create Moments of Magic Through Correlations Found in Big Data (111-114)
o Putting the “Dark Side” into Context — Four Perspectives (119-126)
o Taking Action to Avoid “Evil” (126-144)
o Align IT Along Three Horizons (159-163)
o Create a Spark: Pilot Your Best Code Halo Solutions (194-204)
o Ensure a Balanced Focus on All Five Elements of Your Code Halo’s Anatomy (212-215)
o Clear Rules for Winning at the Crossroads (226-227)

I agree with Malcolm Frank, Paul Roehrig, and Ben Pring: “The key to success — as we have outlined in this book — is to first recognize the contours of the transition [to the new economic model] and then follow the proper process to address it. The transitions to date in music, movies, books, phones, and information services serve as our canaries in the coal mine. They have shown a pattern — the “Crossroads Model” — that we believe will repeat itself again and again in coming years.” The five “clear rules” they offer will help business leaders to seize unique and unprecedented opportunities that have only begun to reveal themselves. It remains for those who read this book to embrace rather than attempt to ignore or delay a transition that could well prove to be the most significant paradigm shift thus far.

One final point: The information, insights, and counsel in this volume can be of incalculable value to leaders in any organization – whatever its size and nature may be – if (a HUGE “if”) they select whatever material is most appropriate to their organization’s needs, resources, and strategic objectives. Obviously, it would be a fool’s errand to attempt to apply everything.

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