What are some good books on digital?

Question: I’ve been discussing digital challenges with my clients and wanted to know whether there are any books/publications you would recommend for background reading?

It kind of depends on whether you’re looking to read about digitisation of industries (aka digital transformation) or digital marketing as a discipline. The two are close but the specialism of titles means that you do need to give it full consideration.

Digital Transformation books:

Leading Digital by George Westerman, Didier Bonnet and Andrew McAffee – [Amazon UK / Amazon.com]

Well researched book on why you need to digitally transform and how to go about it. Personally I think the first two sections are strongest and in the third I failed to be entirely convinced by the transformation model presented by the authors.

Digital Disruptuon by James McQuivey [Amazon UK / Amazon.com]

Picked up a copy of this at SXSW. A good examination on how digital is powering disruption and why the big players are struggling to keep up.

And a classic – Business at the Speed of Thought [Amazon UK / Amazon.com]

I expect this to have the greatest marmite effect upon readers. It’s dated and heavily Microsoft oriented which isn’t great. But if you can put those things behind you, Gates does a fantastic job of painting the future vision of business. A vision that in 2015 many have failed to implement.

Digital Marketing books:

For a good primer on digital marketing; Understanding Digital Marketing by Damian Ryan [Amazon UK / Amazon.com] Essentially a collection of essays by “leaders” in each field of digital marketing. Definitely a good primer on each of the main techniques in digital marketing.

More of an academic text book, but one can’t fault Dave Chaffey’s expertise: Digital Business and Ecommerce Management by Dave Chaffey [Amazon UK / Amazon.com] Generally academic text books are under utilised outside universities. This is a great resource for those involved in developing and optimising digital channels.

Dave’s blog Smart Insights is a very good place to go searching for information as well.

I’d also recommend books by Avinash Kaushik on web analytics. Whilst they tend to be focussed on a specific discipline his writing gives a very broad topic of how to succeed in digital marketing.

Or just read more broadly

Business book do have a way of saying very little with lots of words so I always recommend speed reading these types of books. If you want some other recommendations for more general business reads check out:

Good to Great by Jim Collins – absolutely incredible investigation into why some businesses flourish – should be essential reading for MBAs
Business Model Generation by Alex Osterwalder – visualise how businesses work
4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss – still a long way to go for me on achieving the 4 hour work week
Why we Buy by Paco Underhill – a seminal piece on why we buy stuff (and more importantly for business why we don’t)
First 90 Days by Michael Watkins – worthy of a read even if you aren’t changing jobs

Your suggestions

Add anything I may have missed to the comments below.

David Sealey is a trusted adviser to senior executives on getting the most from their investment in digital and data. David created Storm81 as a place to share his passion for business, digital technologies, multichannel marketing and everything else around these topics.

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