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Professors and the Unanticipated Consequences of Digital Transformation

Code Halos - The Book
On my run yesterday I listened to a Freakonomics Radio podcast as I do regularly.  In the latest podcast titled How to Think Like a Freak — and Other FREAK-quently Asked, authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner discussed the fact that university professors get to keep all the rights to books they write and the profits they generate as a result, but not for inventions.  I have been pondering that topic since.

Why would universities treat the creation of a book, and the profits from a book, differently than that of an invention?  Perhaps written ideas were perceived as having less value, than using those ideas to produce a physical object with productive value.  Although, it could be argued that patents are written words and drawings.  If a university professor wrote a book of patentable ideas, they could sell it and keep all the profits, but if they used the words to make a product they would lose the rights and the profits.   Hummmm...

How does this strange agreement work in an age of digital transformation when many of the most profitable businesses produce no products, but are simply based upon the clever arrangement of digits. Netflix, Amazon, eBay, Google etc., come to mind.  They base their businesses off of the use of "Code Halos."  Websites, product catalogs, digital ads, e-commerce engines, shopping carts and online shipment tracking systems are digital (letters and numbers representing 0s and 1s).

I don't think universities have yet thought this through.

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Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Editor
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
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Recommended Strategy Book Code Halos
Recommended iPad App Code Halos for iPads

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

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More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is an opinionated Senior Analyst at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work, SAP Mentor Alumnus, speaker, writer, and mobile and digital strategies expert. He is a popular keynote speaker, and in the past three years he has shared his insights into mobile and digital strategies with companies in 17 different countries. He has over 30 years of experience working with enterprise applications, and he is a veteran mobile industry executive. He wrote the Forward to SAP Press' bestselling book on enterprise mobility titled Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP, and he has written over 3,000 articles.

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