“My favorite book of the year.”—Doug McMillon, CEO, Wal-Mart Stores
Harvard Business School Professor of Strategy Bharat Anand presents an incisive new approach to digital transformation that favors fostering connectivity over focusing exclusively on content.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BLOOMBERG
Companies everywhere face two major challenges today: getting noticed and getting paid. To confront these obstacles, Bharat Anand examines a range of businesses around the world, from TheNew York Times to The Economist, from Chinese Internet giant Tencent to Scandinavian digital trailblazer Schibsted, and from talent management to the future of education. Drawing on these stories and on the latest research in economics, strategy, and marketing, this refreshingly engaging book reveals important lessons, smashes celebrated myths, and reorients strategy.
Success for flourishing companies comes not from making the best content but from recognizing how content enables customers’ connectivity; it comes not from protecting the value of content at all costs but from unearthing related opportunities close by; and it comes not from mimicking competitors’ best practices but from seeing choices as part of a connected whole.
Digital change means that everyone today can reach and interact with others directly: We are all in the content business. But that comes with risks that Bharat Anandteaches us how to recognize and navigate. Filled with conversations with key players and in-depth dispatches from the front lines of digital change, The Content Trap is an essential new playbook for navigating the turbulent waters in which we find ourselves. Praise for The Content Trap
“A masterful and thought-provoking book that has reshaped my understanding of content in the digital landscape.”—Ariel Emanuel, co-CEO, WME | IMG “The Content Trap is a book filled with stories of businesses, from music companies to magazine publishers, that missed connections and could never escape the narrow views that had brought them past success. But it is also filled with stories of those who made strategic choices to strengthen the links between content and returns in their new master plans. . . . The book is a call to clear thinking and reassessing why things are the way they are.”—The Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Bharat Anand is the Henry R. Byers Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in economics from Harvard University and received his Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University.
Professor Anand is an expert in digital and corporate strategy. He has studied how new technologies affect what we watch, read, and hear, and how companies navigate digital change. He has written more than fifty articles and case studies, received awards for his research and case-writing, and chaired various executive education programs. He is a two-time winner of the “best teacher award” at Harvard Business School.
Anand has advised leading organizations and entrepreneurs around the world. Recently, he helped create Harvard Business School’s digital learning initiative, HBX, which he now oversees as faculty chair.
“Bharat Anand’s The Content Trap is a masterful and thought-provoking book that has reshaped my understanding of content in the digital landscape. For every artist, agent, marketer, creative person, or strategist—even if you think you don’t have time, read this book anyway.”—Ariel Emanuel, co-CEO, WME | IMG
“Today, to some extent, every company is a media company, but Anand emphasizes that it’s not just about the content you create; it’s the connections you make that matter—the platforms and network effects.”—Doug McMillon, CEO, Wal-Mart Stores
“The Content Trap is a book filled with stories of businesses, from music companies to magazine publishers, that missed connections and could never escape the narrow views that had brought them past success. But it is also filled with stories of those who made strategic choices to strengthen the links between content and returns in their new master plans. . . . The book is a call to clear thinking and reassessing why things are the way they are.”—The Wall Street Journal
“As Bharat Anand shows in this eminently readable book, connections are now more important than content. His insights will bring you several steps closer to understanding the digital revolution and how you can avoid its many perils.”—Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author of Drive and To Sell Is Human
“This book is a clarion call for creativity and imagination in strategy development. I measure the success of a business book by my desire to share it with colleagues. After reading The Content Trap, I want all of my former colleagues at The New York Times to read it.”—Martin Nisenholtz, former CEO, New York Times Digital; Professor of the Practice of Digital Communication, Boston University
“Bharat Anand thinks both globally and functionally: our group and I have learnt a lot from him over the years. He has provoked us to shape ideas in new ways. That is what you will experience when you read The Content Trap.”—Koos Bekker, chair of Naspers, global internet group
“In my professional life I have seen audiences’ relationship with movies, television programming and music be radically transformed by the digital revolution. Bharat Anand’s book is invaluable in its analysis of how this change has affected the media space and in particular how consumers relate to the content that we are creating. It helps to explain what has happened and also provides insights as to what we might expect. I thoroughly recommend it.”—Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment
“Bharat Anand offers a fresh look on how and why organizations are winning and losing in the digital world—and it is not for the reasons we so often hear. The Content Trap is brimming with fascinating examples, applied theory, and new insights that go beyond the hype and reveal the dynamics that are crucial for all organizations aiming to succeed in today’s increasingly digital environment. It is a must-read for all leaders interested in devising strategies and building organizations that can thrive in the future.”—Jeff Bradach, managing partner and co-founder, Bridgespan Group
“The Content Trap by Bharat Anand is a must-read for anyone entering the digital age of business. It corrects common misperceptions that are based on assumptions rather than fact-based research. Filled with anecdotes and case studies, it will free you from making mistakes that others have learned from. It is a page-turner.”—Deepak Chopra
“Bharat Anand has written the rarest of books, one that combines deep strategic insight with great practical impact. The Content Trap is both a delight to read and the essential book for understanding today’s digital revolution. In the process, Anand debunks the conventional wisdom time and time again; his insights are sharp, perceptive, and strikingly original.”—David Garvin, C. Roland Christensen Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
“The Content Trap by Bharat Anand is a rare book that is both extremely personal, because of what Harvard University—where he teaches—is being forced to acknowledge in the rise of digital education platforms, and simultaneously academic, because of the extensive, real-life examples he has accumulated to illustrate smart theories around the dilemmas and challenges we all confront in this era of endless digital-led transformation. It is a must-read for those who think about digital, live it, and are willing to embrace the challenges and opportunities that it brings to everything we do.”—Raju Narisetti, SVP, Strategy, News Corp., former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Digital and The Washington Post
“A very smart book—creators, ignore this at your peril. This revolution has been twenty years in the making, and Bharat Anand makes the past (and the future) a lot more clear.”—Seth Godin, New York Times bestselling author of Meatball Sundae and Linchpin
“‘Content is king’ may once have been true, but favoring content over connections will only get you dethroned today. In clear and compelling prose, Anand shows us how to lay the strategy groundwork to thrive in an increasingly connected world. Understanding the content trap is the true solution to your digital dilemma!”—Barry Nalebuff, Milton Steinbach Professor, Yale School of Management, co-author of Why Not? and Co-opetition, and co-founder of Honest Tea
“From one of the clearest forward-looking thinkers I’ve met in more than three decades in media and entertainment, The Content Trap contradicts much of the conventional thinking about media strategy in the digital age. Rather than considering content vs distribution, or aggregation vs targeting, among other perceived and hotly debated tradeoffs, Bharat Anand’s illustrative case stories help us to see the much larger playing field across diverse but related industries revolving around technology, information and media.”—Phil Kent, former CEO, Turner Broadcasting
“I love this book. In an extremely approachable way, Bharat Anand makes it clear that in a world of almost unlimited access to content, connections matter more these days. I have spent most of my career in education and now I get to see, and help, universities work to put connections at the center of the learning experience. The surprising part about HBX is not just that the experiment is leading to fantastic student outcomes, but that this was created by Harvard Business School itself. Successful incumbents are not supposed to innovate. It just doesn't happen. Anand tells the compelling story of how they avoided the content trap many in education haven’t been able to avoid.”—Chip Paucek, co-founder and CEO, 2U