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Blown to Bits : How the New Economics of Information Transforms Strategy

Phillip Evans & Thomas S. Wurster

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Format: Hardcover, 288pp.
ISBN: 9780875848778
Publisher: Harvard Business School Press
Pub. Date: November 1999

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

"Management gurus tend to spice up their conversations and writings with silly new words and phrases, destroying perfectly good anecdotes with convoluted explanations. The Blown to Bits duo avoid these pitfalls, cleverly explaining how the Internet and other technological innovations are changing the basic structures of most industries and simply destroying the remainder."

Richness or reach? The trade-off used to be simple but absolute: Your business strategy either could focus on "rich" information--customized products and services tailored to a niche audience--or could reach out to a larger market, but with watered-down information that sacrificed richness in favor of a broad, general appeal. Much of business strategy as we know it today rests on this fundamental dilemma.

Now, say Evans and Wurster, the new economics of information is eliminating the trade-off between richness and reach, blowing apart the foundations of traditional business strategy. Blown to Bits reveals how the spread of connectivity and common standards is redefining the information channels that link businesses with their customers, suppliers, and employees. Increasingly, your customers will have rich access to a universe of alternatives, your suppliers will exploit direct access to your customers, and your competitors will pick off the most profitable parts of your value chain. Your competitive advantage is up for grabs. To prepare corporate executives and entrepreneurs alike for a fundamental change in business competition, Evans and Wurster expand and illuminate groundbreaking concepts first explored in the award-winning Harvard Business Review article "Strategy and the New Economics of Information," and present a practical guide for applying them.

Examples span the spectrum of industries--from financial services to health care, from consumer to industrial goods, and from media to retailing. Blown to Bits shows how to build new strategies that reflect a world in which richness and reach go hand in hand and how to make the most of the new forces shaping competitive advantage.


"The most thought-provoking analysis I have seen on phase two of the development of e-commerce comes from two Boston Consulting people, Philip Evans and Thomas Wurster. They say success in e-commerce will be determined by three factors: reach, richness and affiliation."
—Hamish McRae, The Independent, November 17, 1999

"As an analysis of the impact of the communications revolution on the corporate world, this book is hard to better."
The Economist, January 8, 2000

Boston Consulting Group veeps Evans and Wurster won a 1997 McKinsey Award for an article they wrote for the Harvard Business Review that became the basis of this book. Starting with a detailed account of the "near-demise" of the Encyclopaedia Britannica as an example, Evans and Wurster show how "the new economics of information will precipitate changes in the structure of entire industries and in the way companies compete." They emphasize the role information plays in every business, and they demonstrate that companies will no longer be forced to choose between "richness" (the quality of information) and "reach" (the number of people who share that information) in their marketing mix. Trade-offs between those two factors are no longer necessary because of increasing connectivity and growing standardization. As a result, organizational supply chains and value chains (the increments by which value is added to products and services) are being "blown to bits" and reconstituted into separate and new businesses. Among the examples the authors use to demonstrate their proposition are automobile dealerships, brokerage companies, and banks. David Rouse
From Booklist October 1, 1999

"There are a number of books today offering to explain the new economics of information, but most are replicative and similar in perspective. Evans and Wurster, from the Boston Consulting Group, provide a different perspective bordering on a seminal interpretation...This is groundbreaking stuff that will be prized by many of today's and most of tomorrow's business leaders."
National Productivity Review, Winter 1999

"Blown to Bits lets you look at your industry through a whole new lens.... If there is an information strategy opening in your industry, someone is going to fill it. Blown to Bits can give you the tools to make sure it's you."
Atlanta Business Chronicle, October 29, 1999

"Blown to Bits commands attention."
Financial Times, October 18, 1999


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About the Authors

Philip Evans is a Senior Vice President of The Boston Consulting Group in Boston. Thomas S. Wurster is a Senior Vice President of The Boston Consulting Group in Los Angeles. The authors are coleaders of The Boston Consulting Group's Media and Convergence Practice.

Table of Contents
1A Cautionary Tale
2Information and Things
3Richness and Reach
6Competing on Reach
7Competing on Affiliation
8Competing on Richness
9Deconstructing Supply Chains
10Deconstructing the Organization
11Monday Morning

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