One of the best benefits of being an industry analyst and blogger is the opportunity to meet many interesting and diverse people.  Attending industry and technology-oriented conferences also affords me the opportunity to meet other noted bloggers.  I came to finally meet Vinnie Mirchandani, author of Deal Architect some months ago during an SAP conference and I continue to enjoy hearing his insights and perspectives on the world of enterprise software.  Previously, Vinnie was a well respected industry analyst at Gartner and in his advisory firm, Deal Architect Inc., has helped many clients evaluate and navigate their technology decisions involving all forms of enterprise software.  During the recent SAP Sapphire conference held in April, I was thrilled that Vinnie offered me an advanced copy of his new book, The New Polymath, and asked me to provide an objective review.

We live in a world with transparent barriers and accelerated movement.  The New Polymath can help individuals and companies put a perspective on the rapidly changing business and technology frontier that surrounds all of us today. Vinnie provides a great framework that helps to context the ideas surrounding the new ‘polymaths’ that will lead in the upcoming era of business and technology innovation.  For those who have grown up in the previous world of global supply chain process, analytics and IT, it will open eyes to examples of entrepreneurs, business leaders and multinational organizations that are leveraging innovation and breakthrough technology to solve big problems.  It is a must-read for supply chain professionals leading multinational and multidisciplinary teams that are looking to drive innovation.

The book has insightful perspectives noting that in spite of previous large expenditures in technology, there is plenty of “nothingness” and stagnation.  Vinnie places millions of dollars of previous investment in ERP systems into insightful perspectives. He notes that in the past, buyers have had little control in vendor product design and applications innovation strategy, because they have little leverage in the universe of tech buyers.  He contrasts this with the new wave of cloud computing options, and makes a sound argument that true innovation will continue to come from the smaller, disruptive players in the market.  Procurement and sourcing will also find the sourcing of talent and product innovation in today’s global world to be of interest.  I would especially recommend you read Chapter 9, Arsonists: And Other Disruptors, which provides some great examples of disruptors in their respective markets.

There are important mentions of supply chain, including sustainability and traceability innovations, and how previous identification technologies such as RFID are beginning to be applied to solve different problems.  Emerging new perspectives on business analytics is another insightful area, where Vinnie notes that 2008 was a wake-up call for most enterprises that realized that after investing billions in historic-focused analytical tools, they realized that their forecasts were off spectacularly. He cites decision-centric analysis: “ Instead of starting with data and thinking about the types of analysis that can be performed, start with decision, and organize the required data and analytics around it.”  The new importance of including unstructured data and the important aspects of predictive analytics are also noted.

This is a fascinating book and a great read and you should consider putting it on your reading list.

Bob Ferrari.