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IT Savvy: What Top Executives Must Know to Go from Pain to Gain

IT Savvy: What Top Executives Must Know to Go from Pain to Gain [Kindle Edition]

Peter Weill , Jeanne W. Ross
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description


8/10 Undoubtedly good value for money for anyone who wants to improve their understanding of strategic IT planning, management and governance. --British Computer Society magazine

Product Description

Digitization of business interactions and processes is advancing full bore. But in many organizations, returns from IT investments are flatlining, even as technology spending has skyrocketed.

These challenges call for new levels of IT savvy: the ability of all managers-IT or non-IT-to transform their company's technology assets into operational efficiencies that boost margins. Companies with IT-savvy managers are 20 percent more profitable than their competitors.

In IT Savvy, Peter Weill and Jeanne Ross-two of the world's foremost authorities on using IT in business-explain how non-IT executives can acquire this savvy. Concise and practical, the book describes the practices, competencies, and leadership skills non-IT managers need to succeed in the digital economy. You'll discover how to:

-Define your firm's operating model-how IT can help you do business

-Revamp your IT funding model to support your operating model

-Build a digitized platform of business processes, IT systems, and data to execute on the model

-Determine IT decision rights

-Extract more business value from your IT assets

Packed with examples and based on research into eighteen hundred organizations in more than sixty countries, IT Savvy is required reading for non-IT managers seeking to push their company's performance to new heights.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 503 KB
  • Print Length: 182 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (7 July 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004OEIQ6S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #173,462 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By antom
Peter Weill and Jeanne Ross explain how non-IT managers can ensure their companies successfully build a digitised platform of business processes, IT systems, and data. Too many firms, the authors' show, end up with sets of isolated systems and business processes; as inelegantly bound together as cold spaghetti - difficult to adapt and expensive to maintain. Weill and Ross provide a framework that firms can follow to avoid this situation.

The book is written for business managers, but CIOs and IT managers will also find it useful. It's concise, informative, avoids IT jargon, and forsakes detailed discussion of current technologies, concentrating instead on strategy.

The authors' conclusions are based on their extensive research at MIT Centre for Information Systems Research, involving more than 1,800 companies in over sixty countries during the period 2000 to 2009; and the book also includes many illustrative case studies from companies such as UPS, Proctor & Gamble, Swiss Re and 7-Eleven Japan.

Weill and Ross show that the advantages companies gain from a strong digitised platform include:
* Greater alignment between needed strategic capabilities and implemented capabilities.
* Higher operational efficiency.
* Higher customer intimacy.
* Higher product leadership.
* Higher strategic agility.

The authors guide the reader through a strategy that starts with a consideration of which business processes to integrate and standardise. From this, an operation model is devised that allows management to focus attention on the strategic implications of the IT decisions. Options for building the digitised platform are discussed, and processes for funding and IT governance are also considered.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Expert overview of IT strategies 21 Dec 2009
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
This useful book is clearly written and sharply focused; it stays right on message. As its subtitle indicates and its writing style reflects, executives are its target audience. Peter Weill and Jeanne W. Ross, researchers at the MIT's Sloan School of Management, provide the data leaders need to manage, fund and update their IT programs - information they gathered during field research at more than 1,000 companies. They sketch broad concepts, but don't shy away from a high level of abstraction. You may have to do some additional work before making decisions about realigning your IT structures, but this will position you to know what to consider. getAbstract recommends this book to every executive, since all top managers now must learn to thrive in an increasingly digital world and to understand information technology (IT) strategy. It will also assist IT specialists who must work with managers who are still building their strategic know-how for the digital age.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a business book about IT that executives should read 6 Jun 2009
By Mark P. McDonald - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Based on its title IT Savvy, executives may look past this book as another IT advocacy book. You know the kind that says technology will fix everything. Don't make that mistake.

Weill and Ross have created a business book about IT with a clear and concise argument of the role, purpose and contribution IT makes to the enterprise. This is a book executives should read because it clearly states mostly in business terms how executives should think about, lead and fund IT.

Highly recommended for business executives, ignore the title and read the book. CIOs and IT executives should read the book as well and buy copies for their business peers. Corporate and IT strategists should read this book as it have several tools that will help them work together more effectively.

The book's principle term IT Savvy is defined as the ability to use IT to consistently elevate firm performance. It's a good workable definition, not so prescriptive as to lock out innovation, yet not so open as to mean anything to everybody. The book builds on this simple definition with a number of very powerful observations and statements that matter:

> You have to stop thinking about IT as a set of solutions and start thinking about integration and standardization. Because IT does integration and standardization well.

> IT Savvy firms have 20% higher margins than their competitors.

> You need an operating model before you can make sound investments in IT

> IT funding is important, as systems become the firm's legacy that influence, constrain or dictate how business processes are performed. IT funding decision are long term strategic decision that implement your operating model

IT Savvy is based on three main ideas with some commentary from the reviewer.

1- Fix what is broken about IT, which concentrates on having a clear vision on how IT will support business operations and a well-understood funding model. These are two things required for executives to be accountable for IT and its contribution to raising business performance. This is in sharp contrast to situations where IT is delegated and benignly neglected in the enterprise. Sound advice.

2- Build a digitized platform to standardize and automate the processes that are not going to change so you can concentrate on the elements that do change. This is counter-intuitive advice for people who have been told to use IT to chase innovation, but the platform idea is based on studying leading companies and what they do with IT. It may not be sexy, but the platform does drive significant margin, operational and strategic advantage.

3- Exploit the platform for growth by focusing on leading organization changes that drive value from the platform. This is sound advice that is often left out of business and IT books. Once you build a platform for scale, and then lead the company to drive scale across the platform to get benefits. You would not build a house you intended to live in and then not live in it, but many companies build a platform and then run away from it.

The book concludes with an assessment, based on their research that you can take to determine how IT Savvy your business is. The assessment is a very helpful tool for launching the conversation of how to raise business performance.


The book is clearly written and very well supported with business based case studies of leading companies like UPS, Proctor & Gamble, Aetna, Seven-Eleven Japan, Pfizer, etc. The cases make for good business based reading and an understanding of what an IT Savvy business looks like.

The book is focused with clear language that makes for an efficient yet in depth read. This is the perfect book for executives who want to learn about raising performance, but do not have the time to study it in depth. There also a number of powerful tools, graphics and frameworks that let you apply the ideas.

The book is not limited to IT. In fact it features in depth discussions of business processes, shared services, management, measurement, operating models etc. Covering these topics in conjunction with IT shows that the authors are clearly concerned with business performance first, second and third.


Its minor but readers need to recognize that when you talk about the value of anything, like IT, you tend to refer to the thing a lot. This book uses the word IT a lot and IT Savvy, which may give the reader the impression that it's an IT book. I would advise reading past that term and into what is changing in the business.

The book is short, small format, and only 182 pages. For some that is a real problem, they take brevity as a sign that the book is about marketing the idea than driving the point home. NOT THIS BOOK. The book if focused and I thank the authors for not wandering in the latter chapters just so they could write the traditional 300-page business book.

The book reprise some of the authors earlier works on enterprise architecture and IT governance. This is ok as many readers will not be familiar with this work and the pieces covered here fit well with the overall theme of IT Savvy and demonstrate the authors depth of knowledge.

Many of the main points of the book come at the end of paragraphs or chapters. This makes the book a little difficult to skim-read, something that executives often do. My advice is to take the time to read the words and look out for the nuggets of wisdom toward the end of the chapters. Given that it's a shorter book and the language is clear, I found the extra time to read more than paid off in the extra insight gained.

Overall, a good book, one that should become a foundation for understanding the role of technology in the enterprise.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for any senior business executive who wants to succeed in the digital era 24 Jun 2009
By Vijay Gurbaxani - Published on
As someone who has read all of the earlier books by these authors, I think this is the best one yet. The world is increasingly digital and IT is now essential to how we work, live and play. Success in business will only come to companies that master the management of IT. IT enables innovation in products, processes and business models, and the operating model is dependent on IT. Many business (non-IT) execs, struggle with what their role ought to be in managing this asset, typified by complexity and relentless change. This book, targeted at the senior business exec, focuses on a handful of key IT management processes that when well designed, implemented and executed will lead to what they term IT Savvy.

Immensely readable, the book explains the key concepts clearly, illustrates them with convincing examples from leading companies, and leaves you with an actionable agenda for raising the IT Savvy at your company. The ideas in the book are based on many years of research and are a durable set of management principles that when mastered will enable companies to successfully leverage IT.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Favorite CIO/CEO book so far 26 Oct 2009
By Mohammed Alhamdan - Published on
Weill/Ross' books are easy on the eye. This sort of book understands how CEOs think about IT and convince them on the possible hidden values of IT that many organizations don't realize. This book is obviously not just another a pro-IT book or anti-CEO book. It talks about integration to create VALUE. It also talks about cutting IT expenses as an effective tactical solution to organisations that suffer from IT. It talks about changing the organisational behavior rather than sending blames randomly or particularly to CIO.

This book is a must have for CEOs/CIOs and if you have a lazy CEO, I recommend summarizing some of the ideas to him/her to become an IT savvy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fifteen years of field-tested research contributes to a fine guide for managers on how to link IT to success 15 Sep 2009
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Managers face an increasingly competitive global world and must know some degree of IT (information technology) savvy to be successful. IT SAVVY teaches how to link IT to bottom-line results and comes form IT expects who argue that success in the digital economy will go to companies smart about using IT successfully. Fifteen years of field-tested research contributes to a fine guide for managers on how to link IT to success.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for IT & Non-IT Leadership to Read 17 Aug 2009
By W. E. Beck - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is one book that manages to communicate very timely and tangible content. Most books in this arena are too focused on one facet of IT or way too general to be of any real value. IT Savvy was a blazing fast read that was easily absorbed and made me overlay the concepts against what I'm already doing in my organization. I hope no one else reads this book - except the members of my exec team...
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Integration provides data access across a business to enable end-to-end processes (e.g., order-to-cash, opening an account) or a single face to customers. Standardization reduces variation in business processes to increase quality, efficiency, and predictability in customer interactions and back office operations. &quote;
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Information technology does two things well: integration and standardization. &quote;
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First, senior executives have to fix what’s broken in their management and use of IT. This means they have to introduce new ways of thinking about and funding IT. Second, IT and business leaders have to build a digitized platform. A digitized platform is rapidly becoming a prerequisite for the opportunity to compete in the digital economy. Third, business leaders must exploit their digitized platform for profitable growth. &quote;
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