15 books that will push your business to innovate

Keeping up with the latest marketing and tech trends is a challenge for businesses of all sizes. Project managers, C-suite executives, IT pros and creatives all require regular access to ideas that will drive innovation. Blogs and social media often serve as the first line of research, but these formats typically give a limited view. Take a deeper dive with these recent books on innovation, marketing and technology.


Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy — And How to Make Them Work for You by Parker et. al.

Learn how to apply the successful strategies of platforms such as Airbnb, Uber, and Tinder to your own work. This book contains not just examples of platform models, but an analysis of how platforms disrupt traditional pipeline businesses and how to build your own successful platform.


The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly

When thinking about innovation, it’s easy to focus too much on high-tech inventions such as robots and fast computers. But these are the just the end products of bigger trends. Kelly’s approach in The Inevitable is broader, since he investigates the forces driving these trends. Among the forces covered in the book, “filtering” is one of those relevant to marketing and advertising. Under filtering, there is heightened personalization that anticipates a user’s needs. If you want to anticipate the world-changing trends that will come to shape the future of tech, this is a must-read.


The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism by Arun Sundararajan

According to this book, the “sharing economy” describes the marketplaces that allow for individuals to sell their services directly to others. For example, under a traditional model, people rent rooms from hotels or motels. Under a sharing economy, Airbnb allows people who own property to rent them out to other people. It’s changing how we think of transactions, making them ruled by trust, reputation, and independence. This is a great primer for understanding the sharing economy from the perspectives of both the customers and the providers.


The Content Trap: A Strategist’s Guide to Digital Change by Bharat Anand

If you’ve ever doubted that investing in high quality content is enough to ensure the success of a company, The Content Trap is for you. Author Bharat Anand suggests that it’s not the content itself but how the content connects with the daily lives of users and a brand’s master plan. With detailed case studies, Anand presents companies that have escaped the content trap by forging a stronger connection between their content and their business plan.


The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu

If you’re ready to take a look at the dark side of digital advertising, check out The Attention Merchants, which explores how ads, especially ones that track our activities, have monopolized our attention. The ideas from this book can provide your agency with some introspection on what you want your role to be in an increasingly personalized and possibly intrusive industry. If reading stories about advertising is your thing, the book also offers an interesting history of attention-grabbing advertising, starting from billboards to TV and radio and, finally, to our mobile devices.


The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information by Frank Pasquale

The Black Box Society is about how our online and offline habits are constantly tracked by companies and how their algorithms affect our lives. If your business deals with a lot of personal data, whether it’s for buying ads or customer profiling, this book will give you a lot to consider when deciding how much to track, how to do it, and why. Perhaps you’ll find innovative ways to think outside the “black box.” Even if you don’t directly deal with individuals’ private data, it’s important to know the implications of the algorithms and data that a huge part of the ad industry relies on.


Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman

This new book by Thomas Friedman answers the question, “How do we cope with a fast-changing technology, culture, environment, and economy?” The reader will learn how to adapt to these rapid changes not just through innovation, but also through taking “slower” approaches such as looking to their community, shutting out the noise, and keeping in touch with their essential values.


Too Fast to Think: How to Reclaim Your Creativity in a Hyper-connected Work Culture by Chris Lewis


As you’re trying to catch up with technology, don’t forget to slow down once in a while. According to Too Fast to Think, our hyper-connected and fast-paced world is hampering our creativity. The author makes several important suggestions that will work for even the busiest business. There are tips on how to reduce information overload, improve office layouts, and cultivate creativity.


Monetizing Innovation: How Smart Companies Design the Product Around the Price by Madhavan Ramanujam and Georg Tacke

This book addresses the common fear that many company leaders have about innovation: what if it fails? Through case studies and stories, the authors outline the steps an organization can take to make sure that their innovations are monetized.


Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe

Whiplash gives readers an inside look at the MIT Media Lab, which focuses on technology and communications. The book includes stories, research processes, and operating principles followed by the lab. One of these principles is “Practice over Theory,” which states that in a fast-paced world, planning and strategizing comes at a higher cost than hands-on experimentation and improvisation. Given this example, the book is less a collection of predicted trends and more a manifesto of a broader philosophy.


The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream by Amy Webb

How do mainstream tech trends emerge? The Signals Are Talking helps you identify and predict these upcoming trends by looking at the fringes and spotting the newest ideas. But how do you know which ideas will become mainstream and which ones will just fizzle out into obscurity? Webb teaches rules and frameworks — with catchy names like CIPHER and FUTURE — to help you analyze these fringe ideas to see if they will spread. If you want to be ahead of the curve rather than adapting to existing changes, this book could be for you.


Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini

As a sequel to Cialdini’s 1984 classic, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Pre-Suasion is all about what persuaders can do to maximize the effect of a message the moment before the audience actually receives it. The book includes scientific research and case studies on how to time your messages accordingly, how to direct your audience’s attention, and how to use imagery to deliver your messages more persuasively. Given the long-lasting success of Influence, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this book is present on businesses’ shelves for years to come.


Non-Obvious 2017: How To Think Different, Curate Ideas and Predict The Future by Rohit Bhargava

Since 2011, Rohit Bhargava has collected the top marketing trends of the year in his Non-Obvious book series. For the 2017 edition, some of the new trends listed are “Precious Print” – consumers preferring print over digital – and “Authentic Fameseekers,” which describes content creators gaining large viewership through social media and attracting corporate sponsors. Apart from just a list of trends and examples, the book also contains trend action plans that help you figure out how you and your business can apply each trend. Bhargava also demonstrates some skin in the game by rating the accuracy and longevity of the trends he predicted the year before.


The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross

The Industries of the Future covers key predictions for the next ten years, revealing opportunities that we can take advantage of and problems we can avoid. Some of the industries to watch out for are robotics, digital currencies, genomics, and data analytics. The book also covers a broad perspective, from the global (how tech hotspots like Silicon Valley emerge) to the personal (how parents can prepare their children for the future).


The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax

If, after reviewing all the tech-inclined books on this list, you find yourself wanting another perspective, check out The Revenge of Analog. In this book, Sax profiles the many brands that thrive on selling physical products rather than apps and other digitized formats. He uncovers trends such as the resurgence of print books, paper notebooks, typewriters and vinyl records.

Post by Celine Roque

Celine Roque is an independent author and marketer focused on entrepreneurship, marketing, and creative work. Her writing has appeared in Gigaom and The Content Strategist.