A recent competition saw me win a copy of Alan Brown’s book Delivering Digital Transformation – A Manager’s Guide to the Digital Revolution. Since Alan had been kind enough to post the book to me even with the COVID-19 restrictions still in place, it seemed only fair that I did at least read it, and then having done so publish a review.
Having briefly met Alan in my previous job and discussed digitisation and what digitalisation might mean for a government, I had some expectations around the content. That the book itself is only around 200 pages long and yet covers eight themes only serves to illustrate the scope of the topic but also the significant effort Alan has gone to to produce a book, not an encyclopaedia. I’m sure that Alan’s students will be grateful for the work he has done, sourcing many references for their own studies!
As you would expect from someone who is now a Professor at the University of Exeter Business School, the book is well researched. The result, however, is that reading it requires focus and at points, it feels like reading a catalogue of things you need to know more about. I don’t believe that the book attempts to give you enough knowledge of any subject to bluff your way through conversations, but it opens the reader to the breadth of knowledge that is needed to operate successfully in the Digital Age.
The subtitle calls out that the book is a guide for managers and this is perhaps the more accurate description than the title ‘Delivering Digital Transformation’. Like any guidebook it gives you pointers, some key facts and areas to explore. Just as the tourist doesn’t get the full experience without visiting the places of interest when on holiday, nor will the manager really understand the topics just from reading this book.
In fairness, Alan sets out in the opening pages that this is a book written to provide a foundation and that whilst it can be read linearly it may be better to focus on topics of interest (or perhaps better unfamiliarity) and use as a springboard to further learning.
I find myself torn between wanting to recommend this book because of the topics it covers, whilst knowing that I found it a challenge to pick up and read. My conclusion is that there is merit in persisting with the writing style because of the breadth of material that has been considered to provide the summary.
If you think you know what you’re doing in delivering Digital Transformation, then this book is likely to open your eyes to the challenge you face and if it does nothing more than that it will have been worth reading.
Alan’s recorded a number of short video clips which are worth watching and introduce some of the books content. They are available here.