Nordic Track Book Club Review: HyperWars

Hyperwars: Strategies for Survival and Profit in the Era of On-line Business by Bruce Judson was written in the heyday of 1999, when the web was still new and the sky was the limit.  It certainly reads like a 1999 book, but that’s not necessarily bad.  The more simple wisdom of that era is still useful today, as you may conclude from some of the excerpts.  Dated, sure.  Lightweight, but fun.  2.5 out of 5 [NordicTrack] Stars.

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p.46 Businesses that provide a limited social experience are at risk.  If consumers don’t enjoy a particular shopping task, like buying pool cleaning supplies, they will do it online.

p.51 The Internet facilitates the sale of personalized products.

The Internet turns “free” into a strategic weapon.

p.61 A large part of the Internet’s value arises because it permits cost-effective communications, down the street or on a world-wide basis.

p.69 Our idea of what constitutes expected customer service tends to evolve with technology.

p.106 The web should be thought of as an extension of the product, with all of the attendant attention to quality and customer service that this implies.  The product experience IS the product.  It is the total experience the customer has in interacting with the company involved.

You can’t be afraid to cannibalize your business by launching new and better products even while the existing ones are still healthy. Getting in front of the wave may mean sacrificing a higher margin product today in order to establish a leadership position tomorrow.

p.113 If you compass always points to improving the customer experience, then sorting out how to use the new capabilities of the web to enhance your product or service becomes straightforward and may even start to seem easy.  The more your company can “get personal” the more likely the potential for long-term retention of customers.

p.142 Strategic alliances are easy and possible on the Internet and these relationships can take a company a long way in providing a “total solution.”

p.151 There is a consistency to successful companies’ methodology.  They have pursued a process of trial and error followed by incremental improvements.  Companies must establish a way to evaluate what is a success through some sort of measurement.  The company plan should include a number of different alternatives to test over time.  From the outset there should be a spirit of continual testing and evaluation.

p.152 In industries where products and prices are similar, what makes the difference between success and failure is customer loyalty and what often builds customer loyalty is attentive and intelligent customer service.

p.154 At its best the idea of a community is to create a place where product enthusiasts can gather and discuss aspects of the product they enjoy.

If you’re weighing whether to drop your price to gain market share, or to keep your profit margin high, opt for building market share.  The web accelerates the natural tendency of any industry to move toward consolidation.

p.162 Winners in the future will be companies that can change course quickly, keep their costs down, and best understand their consumers.  It’s more valuable to start new marketing initiatives and refine them as you go than to try to know everything upfront.  By testing multiple approaches and using the Internet to gather information, companies will become more sophisticated in their marketing efforts and thus be more successful in the evolving hypercompetitive environment.

p.173 By offering certain information for free, a company hopes to develop a following of people who appreciate the value and quality of the information available at the site and want to know more, and who will eventually be willing to pay for it.

p.180 I concluded that there are essentially only three central tenants that are part of a hyper-competitive business plan.  1) A focus on speed in all of its manifestations, 2) integration of the web into the core of what the company does, and 3) a focus on how the company adds value for its customers. 

Judson’s rule of thirds.  One third of your annual budget should go into site development, one third should go into site promotion, one third should be retained for changing the site almost immediately after it goes live.  My experience is that as soon as you bring up the site you will learn so much that you will want to build on that knowledge by adding new and different features.  This is an example of planned flexibility.

p.191 “Build a business from the ground up” used to be excellent business advice, however; the advice of today should be, “build modular.”

p.208 The winners in these battles will be those who follow the strategies laid out here.  Be first, be the low cost provider, market aggressively, and work to build customer loyalty through personalized features and customized offerings.  Do everything you can to build loyalty into your customer base.

p.214 At one time I believed that the pace of innovation would slow down.  I now believe that the opposite is true and likely to become even faster.  Companies that survive in a hyperwars environment will be highly flexible and able to adjust prices far more rapidly than in the past.

p.216 If you can imagine it, it will probably happen.

 

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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.