Book Bag: Reading Recommendations from Microsoft, Cisco, Dell EMC


There are a ton of business strategy, sales and marketing, and leadership types of books just waiting to be read.

Finding the good ones – those with valuable insight, takeaways, and actionable advice, or are simply an enjoyable read – takes time. So we’re offering you a shortcut by getting some recommendations from channel executives and industry analysts.

Click through our gallery below for our list of important reads that could boost your business.

Datapipe's Robb Allen

Platform Revolution by Geoff Parker, Marshall Van Alstyne and Sangeet Choudary

This book will help channel partners understand the emergence of platforms as market dominators, how platforms power growth through economies of scale, and the importance of P2P engagement for successful platform management.

"Platform Revolution" follows several companies that have pursued platform strategies and explains how to transform your business utilizing the network effects and the new demand economy. The authors reveal strategies and best practices for newcomers looking to start a platform business and explain how traditional companies can adapt in order to capitalize on the platform opportunity. As we explore ways to further engage partners with each other and with our customers, enabling our partners to utilize these strategies is highly relevant.

—Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president, commercial partner channels and programs, Microsoft

Ensono's Jim Magnus

Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul by Satya Nadella.

Everyone talks about the unique opportunity dynamic corporate executives have to lead their companies through strategic changes that dramatically transform their organizations, but very few have actually pulled off this feat.

In the tech industry, the most prominent example of a true "turnaround artist" is Microsoft’s chairman and CEO, Satya Nadella. He quickly refocused, re-energized and restored his company into an industry leader again after years of decline in a rapidly changing marketplace.

Nadella just as effectively describes his personal beliefs and the organizational tactics that have led to Microsoft’s phenomenal restoration and transformation. In this easy to read book, you can almost hear Nadella tell the story of his youth, fascination with technology, move to the States and evolution within Microsoft. He also very clearly identifies the issues which derailed the company’s success and the steps he had to take to get it back on track.

Now that Microsoft has regained its momentum and stature, Nadella discusses the new technological innovations, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and alternate reality — both augmented and virtual, that will fundamentally change the way people live and work.

The book also provides useful hints about how channel partners should engage with the ‘new’ Microsoft.

—Jeffrey Kaplan, managing director, ThinkStrategies


Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller.

This book is one of the best books I've recently read. It was a recommendation from a friend and business coach.

It is so relevant to what I am working on every day at TPx. As we're moving from a regional brand to a national brand, this book instructs that the message must be crisp, clear and recognizable. Also, instead of talking about our incredible technology – what it can do and how it does it – this book guides us back to the customer and keeps the customer as our No. 1 priority.

—Hilary Gadda, director, national channel development, TPx Communications; co-founder, Women in the Channel

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G Lafley, Roger L. Martin

For channel partners, I recommend "Playing to Win" by AG Lafley, the former chairman and CEO of Proctor & Gamble.

"Playing to Win" comes across as a book about consumer goods, as most of the examples come from the author’s experiences at P&G. However, the book provides an easy-to-understand and actionable overview of a success strategy every company should think about when plotting routes to market.

The book’s “5 Key Questions,” are a tremendously simple strategic framework that can guide business decision making whether you’re a soap manufacturer, IT reseller, cloud broker or telecom agent. "Playing to Win" is a playbook for getting focused and achieving success regardless of your product, service or industry. It should be on everyone’s shelf.

—Larry Walsh, CEO and chief analyst, The 2112 Group

D&H Distributing's Mary Campbell

Everybody Lies – Big Data, New Data and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

This one made me step back and think about big data and hypotheses, and also to make sure that I don’t suffer from "confirmation bias" in work with our clients. Not only that, it is revealing, funny, and will give you the ability to win a few bar bets now and then.

—Kevin Rhone, senior strategic consultant, channel acceleration practice at Enterprise Strategy Group

D&H Distributing's Mary Campbell

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

I love this book because it brings us back to the basics. Companies who focus on the “why," or reason why they do what they do, tend to have the most successful sales and marketing messages that result in more profitable bottom lines.

I think channel partners who read and subscribe to the philosophy of "Start With Why" will start to think differently when defining their company and its purpose, and really understand the internal motivation that goes behind their customers’ purchase decisions. This can then inspire partners to align their digital-marketing strategies to attract customers and capture them on their buying journey with the right personalized content.

Harnessing how we approach our purpose will help us move with the ever-changing digital and customer experience.

—Michelle Chiantera, vice president, marketing, Cisco’s Global Partner Organization

D&H Distributing's Mary Campbell

The Speed of Trust by Steven M.R. Covey

In his book, "The Speed of Trust", Covey describes trust as "the one thing that changes everything," both personally and professionally. I’ve seen it firsthand — teams with built-in trust are far more efficient. It’s an essential component of any high-performing organization.

—Joyce Mullen, president, global channel, OEM and IoT Solutions, Dell EMC

D&H Distributing's Mary Campbell

Business Adventures by John Brooks

This book is a good one. It's actually an old one but was just reprinted recently. It was one of Warren Buffett’s favorite business books — he loaned it to Bill Gates, who also states it is one of his favorites. Definitely a classic everyone should read.

—Bill Laliberte, practice director and senior analyst, networking, Enterprise Strategy Group

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