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Lessons From the Titans of Technology

A new book that provides insights into the successful strategies of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Andy Grove could help RFID providers position their company to win in the market.
By Mark Roberti
Jun 01, 2015

I'm reading a new book titled Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs, by David B. Yoffie and Michael A. Cusumano. Yoffie is the Max and Doris Starr Professor of International Business Administration at Harvard Business School, while Cusumano is the Sloan Management Review Distinguished Professor of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, with a joint appointment in the MIT School of Engineering.

Like many management books, this one is interesting, and it is enlightening to understand the strategies that three titans of technology employed and the specific moves they made at critical junctures in their respective company's development. They could provide some guidance for companies in the radio frequency identification industry, as we are nearing an inflection point similar to the dawn of the PC era, which gave birth to Microsoft and Apple and made Intel what it is today.

The authors have identified five strategies that all three CEOs employed to build the most successful technology companies in the world. The most important strategy is perhaps "Look Forward, Reason Back." The authors write that Gates, Grove and Jobs "determined where they want their companies to be in the future and could 'reason back' to identify the moves that would take them there."

Now is the time for forward-thinking RFID providers who believe the technology will be as big as the PC and the Internet were—and that it will generate billions of dollars in wealth for some companies—to reason back and figure out how to position their firm as a major player in that space.

Do you build the whole product, as Geoffrey Moore might advocate? Do you focus on a particular type of reader that you believe will dominate (another strategy the authors identify is to not bet the company on one thing)? Or do you try to create the platform on which others will build RFID applications, as the authors might advocate?

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