This is perhaps the best book I have read in a long time. Many tech-heads like myself will read it and say, “That is already happening. Why would anybody say this book is good?” Well, I have two things to say to answer that question. First is gimme a break. The book was published in 2001 and, obviously, there have been advancements in technology and some of the things Patrick mentions are already in place or are being put in place. That said, people should still read the book because a lot of what he writes about concerning the NGi (Next Generation Internet) is still not fulfilled yet.
Release date: October 16, 2001
We have the technology. So why do so many businesses crash and burn when it comes to launching successful e-business strategies? Why do flashy web sites send customers to a 1800 number that can be accessed only during “normal” business hours? Why do executives who market toys and games refuse to listen to their own children? According to IBM’s Internet guru, John Patrick, it’s all about attitude. Our inability to harness the full power of the Internet has much less to do with the technology itself than with the cultural and psychological barriers that straitjacket our thinking about it. In Net Attitude he reveals the strategies, and more important, the mindset, that will allow you and your company to flourish in the age of connectivity. Drawing from a wide range of examples from the worlds of business, technology, politics, education, and popular culture, Patrick explores the profound implications of adopting an Internet attitude and how it will transform you and your business.Net Attitude emanates from the grassroots thinking that was part of the evolution of the Internet itself. It is hard to describe but you will know it when you see it. Young people tend to have it but it is not really an age thing. An increasing number of seniors have it too. The masses of people in the middle layers of large organizations often don’t have it. It is not that there is something wrong with them as people; it is just that the bureaucracies of large organizations have shielded them from the new way of thinking and in some cases Darwinian instincts have caused them to bring up their own shields.”
For any e-business strategy to succeed these days, says John Patrick, those behind it must take an informed and confident stance on the Internet and all it can accomplish. Such an attitude is probably more important now, in fact, than it was at the opening of the online revolution. And Patrick ought to know: as vice president of Internet Technology at IBM and a founding member of the World Wide Web Consortium at MIT, he’s been involved in the cyberworld throughout its brief but heady existence. Net Attitude lays out his vision for the future of the medium, and offers suggestions for preparing “your organization and the people who are part of it, as well as all its systems and processes, to take advantage of everything the Internet has to offer.” He attributes those vast possibilities to the emergence of seven characteristics (Fast, Always On, Everywhere, Natural, Intelligent, Easy, and Trusted), elaborates on them individually, and ties them to developments ranging from high-quality video transmission to vending-machine purchases initiated by cell phone. Some may find Patrick’s unabashed optimism a bit much for even an avowed proselytizer, but maybe that’s part of what net attitude is all about. —Howard Rothman
From Library Journal
IBM’s vice president of Internet technology, Patrick adds to the proliferation of Internet books but offers a different spin. His is about “attitude.” Net attitude is abstract and hard to describe, but, according to Patrick, you will know it when you see it. If people in middle management in large organizations tend not to have it, the fault lies not with the individuals but with the organization’s bureaucracy, which has not readily accepted this new mindset. Having a net attitude in business is about preparing your organization, as well as its systems and processes, to take advantage of everything the Internet has to offer. Patrick’s optimism is evident throughout, despite the failures of dot-coms during 2000, which he attributes to businesses not being able to segment their markets. Patrick’s breezy style makes his recommendations and ideas sound simple perhaps too simple. The title may appeal to the curious and small business owners who have not yet embraced Internet technology, but this is not a necessary purchase. — Bellinda Wise
Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY. Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Net Attitude: What It Is, How to Get It, and Why Your Company Can’t Survive Without It
By John R. Patrick
Preface by Stewart Alsop
Perseus Publishing, 2001.
Reviewed by Lise Hansen
Design Management Review – Volume 14, Number 1, Winter 2003
A recent cartoon in The New Yorker by the aptly named Tom Tomorrow laments that owners of cars with alarms are never within earshot when the alarms go off, leaving hapless neighbors to lie awake and curse the darkness. Tomorrow acidly suggests that alarm owners should be obliged to wear a padlocked electronic collar that delivers a series of “extremely painful and prolonged electric shocks” from the time their alarms open up until they are shut off.
The Internet technology scenario John Patrick dishes up for Net Attitude is not as dark, but it’s just as appealing. Patrick, who wrote this book when he was vice president of Internet technology at IBM, is the maverick executive who, in 1994, dragged the company, kicking and screaming, into involvement with the Web, and became a sort of official enfant terrible for Big Blue as it punched its way toward its transformation into e-business.
Patrick’s book throbs with impatience. He can see how things could be—indeed, how they ought to be. He describes in detail the dumb things that still go wrong when you try to use the Web, and the dumb excuses businesses use to explain why they can’t be fixed. How come? he asks. We have the technology. We know how to do this. What’s lacking is Net Attitude—strong leadership from businesses and institutions to, in essence, think outside-in—the way their customers think.
Contrary to those who claim the Internet is stalled or even washed up completely, Patrick claims that we’re in the very early stages of the impact the Internet will have on our business, professional, and personal lives. (His first chapter is called “We Haven’t Seen Anything Yet.”) The next generation of the Internet, Patrick says, will embody seven key characteristics, explained in detail: fast, always on, everywhere, natural (intuitive), intelligent, easy, and trusted. He’s especially strong on the security issues that, handled correctly, lead to trust.
The visions come thick and fast: an online voting system that activates your digital signature after you enter your pin number. An MRI apparatus that lets a physician far away see and diagnose your knee problem in real time. A mobile phone application that closes the garage door from 300 miles away and turns up the heat before you come home, via the server on your home LAN. E-diplomas made relevant not by the issuing university, but by, say, the 10 experts with whom the student studied online.
Good bonuses are the book’s acute and readable summaries of individual technologies (Linux, XML, peer-to-peer networking) and developments (the evolution of Internet standards and the Internet Engineering Task Force, anyone?), as well as the first and only analysis I’ve seen on the term “skunk works.” The latter is fitting: One of Patrick’s biggest contributions to IBM was his ability to attract the best and brightest Internet technologists and turn them loose, protected from the bureaucracy, in small, dynamic labs.
That said, Patrick doesn’t make much of a case for the part of his title that promises to tell you why your company can’t survive without “net attitude,” beyond warning that future generations of consumers and business-to-business customers increasingly will live online. CEOs and boards hungry for ROI need more than that; chart-and-graph wonks would like to see just one proof point. But while giving a token nod to the business disciplines involved in institutionalizing the Internet, Patrick isn’t much interested in issues far from the barricades. His term for those who have to cope with stuff like process reengineering or measurement? White corpuscles.
But many a white corpuscle has been convinced by Patrick’s vision to look outside the organization and work from a customer’s perspective. “Outside is where the people are,” Patrick writes. “Net Attitude will help you walk in their shoes.”