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Hardcover | $29.95 Trade | £24.95 | 240 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 1 figure | September 2017 | ISBN: 9780262037273
eBook | $20.95 Trade | October 2017 | ISBN: 9780262344920
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The Inversion Factor

How to Thrive in the IoT Economy


In the past, companies found success with a product-first orientation; they made a thing that did a thing. The Inversion Factor explains why the companies of today and tomorrow will have to abandon the product-first orientation. Rather than asking “How do the products we make meet customer needs?” companies should ask “How can technology help us reimagine and fill a need?” Zipcar, for example, instead of developing another vehicle for moving people from point A to point B, reimagined how people interacted with vehicles. Zipcar inverted the traditional car company mission.

The authors explain how the introduction of “smart” objects connected by the Internet of Things signals fundamental changes for business. The IoT, where real and digital coexist, is powering new ways to meet human needs. Companies that know this include giants like Amazon, Airbnb, Uber, Google, Tesla, and Apple, as well as less famous companies like Tile, Visenti, and Augury. The Inversion Factor offers a roadmap for businesses that want to follow in their footsteps.

The authors chart the evolution of three IoTs—the Internet of Things (devices connected to the Internet), the Intelligence of Things (devices that host software applications), and the Innovation of Things (devices that become experiences). Finally, they offer a blueprint for businesses making the transition to inversion and interviews with leaders of major companies and game-changing startups.

About the Authors

Linda Bernardi is a serial technology author, investor, and entrepreneur. Formerly Chief Innovation Officer for IoT & Cloud at IBM, she runs the technology strategy firm StraTerra Partners.

Sanjay Sarma is Vice President for Open Learning and Fred Fort Flowers (1941) and Daniel Fort Flowers (1941) Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT.

The late Kenneth Traub, a consultant with thirty years of experience in software engineering, was the cofounder and technical advisor to five high technology startups.


“A growth mindset and an obsession with customer needs are at the core of Microsoft’s continuing transformation. The authors take us on an important and necessary exploration of this journey toward inversion, one that looks beyond narrow product strategies to breakthroughs built on innovation, technology, and culture.”
Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft

The Inversion Factor presents a compelling vision for the evolution of IoT. The book greatly expands our imagination and analyzes the technological, architectural, business, and cultural considerations in order to invent an extraordinary world of products and services through a process the authors cleverly call the Innovation of Things.’”
Joi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab; author of Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future?

“Groundbreaking use of networked technology in service of the real north star—customer satisfaction and experience—is one of the reasons Zipcar succeeded. This book describes how the dynamic real-time digitization of our physical world can positively transform lives with the right people-centric focus.”
Robin Chase, cofounder of Zipcar and Veniam; author of Peers Inc

The Inversion Factor is about the implications of hyper-connectivity, especially in the Internet of Things space. It offers a thought-provoking approach by arguing against the conventional wisdom of ‘make products people want’ in favor of developing better strategic planning. This book is essential for managers and technologists, as well as the general reader.”
David Hsu, Richard A. Sapp Professor and a Professor of Management, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania