Inside the Tornado : Marketing Strategies from Silicon Valley’s Cutting Edge, by Geoffrey Moore

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After reading Crossing the Chasm by Moore a few months ago, I had some interest in reading his next book Inside the Tornado but didn’t quite get around to it. However, one of my coworkers brought it into work last week, and I borrowed it and read it over the weekend.

Inside the Tornado picks up where Crossing the Chasm left off. Crossing the Chasm was about managing the transition from a “gee whiz!” technology company to one that serves the mainstream customer base. Inside the Tornado discusses the difficulties of managing the mainstream. To be specific, Moore identifies three different phases once the chasm is crossed: the Bowling Alley, the Tornado, and Main Street. Each of these phases has different priorities and different management objectives. The critical observation that Moore makes is that the priorities and objectives are diametrically opposed from phase to phase; the same management strategy that works in the Bowling Alley will be a complete disaster in the Tornado, and vice versa.

Moore does a good job of identifying key forces at work within each phase, and how those forces interact to create roles; in the Tornado phase, he talks about the gorilla, the chimps and the monkeys of each market. He also lays out the various strategies necessary to be successful in each phase in terms of partnering, positioning and management, and, more importantly, gives advice on how to identify which phase your company/technology is in. It’s interesting how the focus must shift from technology excellence to organizational efficiency to customer-focused marketing in each phase, and the reasons for it.

Above all, Moore emphasizes the importance of long-range strategic thinking in a high-tech organization. It is all too easy to chase immediate revenues at the expense of long-term growth, or to get dangerously distracted by a side business when you should be focused on expanding your main business, and Moore gives good examples of each of these. By having the Chasm/Tornado paradigm available as an explanatory and strategic tool, companies can use Moore’s insights and vocabulary to help chart their own strategy and have the necessary discussions about the market strategy and positioning at each stage. In particular, while reading this, I was continually thinking about how it related to the project I’m currently working on, and trying to figure out where it fit into this scheme of things. Good book. Nice succinct summary of the market forces at work in the high-tech world. And surprisingly undated despite having been written almost ten years ago in 1995.

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