Data Crush: A book review by Bob Morris

Data CrushData Crush: How the Information Tidal Wave is Driving New Business Opportunities
Christopher Surdak
AMACOM (2014)

How to chart and then navigate an appropriate course during a “perfect storm” of converging demands

Why did Christopher Surdak write this book? “I’ve come to recognize an undercurrent in the world of technology and the Internet, a force that was both an enabler of new technologies and a potential barrier to their advancement: data growth…My aim in Data Crush is to make some sense of this explosion of data in our world.”

More specifically, he examines six major trends — market forces — that are driving the growth and significance of online data for both individuals and organizations: Mobility, Virtual Living, Digital Commerce, Online Entertainment, Cloud Computing, and “Big Data.” He cites John Mancini’s observation that there are six imperatives that business leaders must follow to be successful in this new era of both peril and opportunity:

1. Make everything mobile
2. Digitize processes
3. Make the business social
4. Automate information governance
5. Mine big content
6. Commit to the cloud

Surdak then shifts his attention to four primary drivers of “explosive” data growth: pervasiveness, connectedness, data enablement, and context. This process is facilitated by, indeed expedited by apps that are inexpensive, take advantage of the mobile platform, meet one or more specific needs, and know their owner. As I worked my way through his discussion of these drivers, I was again reminded of Henry Chesbrough’s observations in Open Business Models: How to Thrive in the New Innovation Landscape (2011): “A business model performs two important functions: it creates value and it captures a portion of that value. It creates value by defining a series of activities from raw materials through to the final consumer that will yield a new product or service with value being added throughout the various activities. The business model captures value by establishing a unique resource, asset, or position within that series of activities, where the firm enjoys a competitive advantage.”

Having thus established a frame-of-reference, Chesbrough continues: “An open business model uses this new division of innovation labor – both in the creation of value and in the capture of a portion of that value. Open models create value by leveraging many more ideas, due to their inclusion of a variety of external concepts. Open models can also enable greater value capture, by using a key asset, resource, or position not only in the company’s own business model but also in other companies businesses.”

This is precisely what Surdak has in mind in Chapter 14 when explaining the importance of access to acceleration: “As we enter the era of data-driven, data-dominated processes, one of the major issues companies will face is the speed with which things occur. Driven by hypercompetition, market transparency, and customer expectations, companies will need to learn how to act before their customers need them. They need to anticipate customer needs and proactively sell solutions in a just-in-time fashion. Data analytics allows such predictive action, but it won’t come inexpensively or easily.” I agree while presuming suggest that business leaders keep in mind an observation by Harvard’s then president, Derek Bok, in response to irate parents who had complained about a tuition increase: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

o New Challenges, New Opportunities (Pages 3-4)
o Four Primary Drivers of Data Growth (12-18)
o The “Internet of Things” (20-21)
o Business Impact of Social Media, and, Risks and Rewards of Social Media (26-30)
o The Polarization of Consumers: Ultrapremium Versus Commodity (37-39)
o The Utility Imperative: Why the World Is Moving to the Cloud, and, Cloud and Competition: The End of Barriers to Entry (60-63)
o Climbing the Value Chain: Expansion of the Cloud Paradigm (63-66)
o The Data Revolution: From Storage to Knowledge (69-73)
o Contextification Maturity Model (89-92)
o The Contexification Imperative (95-96)
o Socialfication and Business (100-104)
o Socialfication Maturity Model (106-111)
o Quantafication Majority Model (120-126)
o The Next Application Wave: Concierge Apps (132-135)
o Commodity Obsolescence: The Efficiency Death Spiral (181-184)
o The Information Economy (199-201)
o Defining Critical Metrics (207-210)
o Crowdsourcing: Attacking Work in Bite-Sized Nuggets (231-234)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the abundance of information, insights, and counsel that Christopher Surdak provides in this book but I hope that I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it. It remains for readers to determine which of the material is most relevant to their organization’s needs, interests, resources, and strategic objectives. The five scenarios for the year 2020 in the book’s summary section suggest a context, a frame of reference, within which to make that determination.

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  1. Chris Surdak on July 4, 2016 at 5:47 pm


    Greetings! I want to thank you for your prior review of my first book, “Data crush.” I just finished my second book, “Jerk,” and was curious if you’d be interested in a preview? It is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be released on 7/16.

    I’d be happy to send you the manuscript in PDF, if you like.

    Thanks again for your support of my work!



    • bobmorris on July 6, 2016 at 4:07 am

      Thank you, Chris, for contacting me.

      I am certainly willing to consider reviewing it.

      Please provide a finished copy.

      Robert Morris
      10438 Pagewood Drive
      Dalklas, TX 75230-4254

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