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Real Business of IT: How CIOs Create and Communicate Value (Gartner) Hardcover – 1 Oct 2009

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Real Business of IT: How CIOs Create and Communicate Value (Gartner) + Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution + IT Governance: How Top Performers Manage IT Decision Rights for Superior Results
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press (1 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422147614
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422147610
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.5 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Aimed more at enterprise level companies but many of the points are relevant for SMB\SMEs who are growing and need to learn how to use IT effectively. Not all the measures will work for you but they are a good start for you to create your own. Good for all budding or mid level execs who want to build an understanding of what IT can achieve and how
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Format: Hardcover
Recently reread The real business of IT - how CIOs Create and Communicate value.

First came across the book when recommended by Martin Curley, Vice President & Director, Intel Labs Europe, Intel Corp - I was attending a conference of the Innovation Value Institute.

I think the book speaks to so much of what I see as not working in the business/IT overlap in so many companies - and points out what, from a CIO perspective, needs to change (and implicitly from a business perspective, also).

Bottom line is IT should be all about improving business performance - and that has to be the mindset. And if the CIO and the business leaders have this shared perspective then there are only business projects, there are no `IT projects'.

I liked the authors (Richard Hunter and George Westerman) analysis of the value traps which CIOs and IT managers need to avoid: in particular needing to put themselves in the same shoes as the rest of the business - the customers are the ultimate customers of the business. IT investment needs to enable business to serve customers (and possibly new customers) more effectively and more efficiently. Too often, in a well-intentioned effort to be `customer centric', IT leaders limit themselves to describing their customer base as the IT end users in the company.

The book gives great examples of the type of questioning CIOs can use to understand business strategy, business objectives and work with the business to prioritise business projects requiring IT investment.

I have shared the book with a number of CIOs with whom I have worked - all of whom are looking to make more impact on business performance, rather than being seen as IT people, supporting and administering hardware or software systems.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book should be on the list of every CIO. A MUST read and a reference book to keep in your briefcase. If you are a CIO and want to add value to your organisation through IT, you have selected the right book. Make notes as you go through the book though as their is so information on how to become a better CIO that you don't want to lose that nugget or nuggets of information.
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Format: Hardcover
Business IT is half a century old - 2009 is the 50th anniversary of the software programming language COBOL. If it were easy to fully integrate the rapidly changing value dynamics of IT into the heart of our business organisations, we would have discovered how to do it years ago. However, the subtle management process, structure and culture problems have been hard to diagnose and it has taken several generations of IT leaders to gradually uncover and refine the repeatable formula for true success. The dysfunctional disconnect between IT and other parts of the business, is an ever increasing performance drain, but there is a way out of the trap.

This book nails the essential formula. It condenses the wisdom of many multi-year CIO journeys and boils the key learning down to a deceptively simple prescription.
Don't expect grand theories, technology quick fixes or a magical organisation chart answer. This is a practical book about substantive management change for people who really must make it happen in complex organisations. Hunter and Westerman offer a four stage value path that brings simple penetrating clarity - shining a light on the root causes of business / IT misunderstanding and mistrust.

If you are a CIO, or you have one reporting to you - this book is a rock. Seasoned managers will find they have already discovered some of the key jigsaw pieces though their own experience. For them the book offers a frame and the remaining parts of the puzzle, and delivers it in crystal clarity. For those who are new, the work provides a huge head-start that does not require prior knowledge or experience.

The authors are both highly experienced writers and it shows.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 24 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A real value to IT executives 25 Sep 2009
By Mark P. McDonald - Published on
Format: Hardcover
What is the business value of IT? This is a perennial question that dominates executive discussions. Many have sought to answer this question with fancy algorithms, consulting practices, benchmark data and other tools. However, the question is basic to IT so it should have a basic answer - right? Absolutley and fortunately Hunter and Westerman provide much of the answer in this book.

The Real Business of IT is a clear and focused look at the issue of IT value and the approaches to capture, communicate and increase that value. This book is unique in several respects. It is a book written for CIOs largely based on the experience of CIOs.

The book features extended practices from leading companies like McKesson, Intel, Freescale, Deltak and many others. Building on those sources, Hunter and Westerman explain a simple virtuous cycle for driving IT value. They illustrate this cycle with about a dozen concepts that CIOs can use tomorrow to change the way they talk about value.

Hunter and Westerman make good use of these resources creating a book that is filled accessible information. One of the ways they do this is through using analogies from outside of IT. This not only makes the ideas easy to understand but also it gives the CIOs stories that they can use to inform and educate their business peers about IT.

This book helps CIOs avoid common value traps that limit the view of IT's value in the enterprise. It then goes on to build the tools and techniques to demonstrate the value for money in IT, how IT helps run, grow and transform the enterprise, manage IT's unit costs, and other key concepts.

The book is tuned and intended for CIOs and IT executives, rather than business executives. This is not to say business executives should not read this book, its just that it is not written for them. By focusing on CIOs, the authors avoid much of the complexity found in other books. This should be taken as a strength since that focus enables the authors to clearly provide practices and tools that CIOs can use.

The business value of IT sits in the conversations within your enterprise not in compliance with some industry standard. Therefore, I would suggest that CIOs use this book with their teams to build that conversation, in their terms and their situation.

This book is highly recommended for CIOs and IT executives all of whom will face the need to answer questions about the value of IT. In this book, CIOs will learn directly from the authors as well as the insights of leading CIOs and their examples. This is a powerful combination that makes the investment in The Real Business of IT a good value.


Anchoring IT value solidly in terms of business performance. This is critical to establishing a clear and unequival way of measuring the value of IT.
Actionable and practical advise that comes directly from CIO experience.

Contains positive and negative examples on the business value of IT

Clearly illustrated tables and tools that CIOs can put into action quickly

References actual performance data and metrics

Uses non-IT analogies and stories that facilitate both understanding IT value issues and CIOs to use these analogies to make their own case in the enterprise.


While the book is strong in terms of tools and advice, many of these specfics are generic. This means that CIOs will have to tailor these tools to their own situation. This is not a big weakness, as CIOs should not simply implement solutions blindly.

Business executives often express value in terms of financial measures and terms. While the book advises CIOs to focus on business performance, it could have done with some expanded financial content.

The latter chapters that discuss BPR and organizations change cover them in a traditional way. This reinforces the importance of creating value beyond more than just IT.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Useful and Practical Advice but very Verbose 4 Jan 2012
By Raja Valiveti - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Approach suggested by Authors is basic commonsense, but definitely relevant, useful and practical, which many people miss out. However this could have been articulated in just a few dozen pages, perhaps as a main article in a magazine rather than a 200 page long book. Result is verbose text, with plenty of repetition and many needless references to what contemporary CIOs, CxOs told the authors or in magazine interviews. What would have helped is giving a set of structured/concrete Checklists/Benchmarks either directly or in the case studies to supplement the suggested value creation 'framework'.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Best IT book I ever read 10 Jan 2010
By Suzandeise Thome - Published on
Format: Hardcover
How do we fix IT's problems? Well, Hunter and Westerman gave us the answer: pick up more work! Yes, and it actually does make sense. Be responsible for MORE things and your success rate will increase.

This book is about how to really deliver value from IT. It is based on changing IT's mindset. You've probably read much on this topic before, but this book sums it all up and more. And it does have suggestions that can be readily applied.

Every manager in IT should read this book!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A "'Must Read" book 19 Jun 2011
By Khaled Ismail - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book that every IT manager or CIO must read. It discuss and explain the challenges of the relationship IT/Business, give concrete set of priciples and examples with useful recommendations on how to master the challenge and create and communicate value for and to business.It is written in a very clear, easy to read and understand language.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Real Business of IT Exposed 9 July 2010
By Ruckus - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gartner nailed this one. This book focuses on what is really important when running an IT organization. No wasted time talking about team building, SOA, or any other buzzwords of the day. It is all about driving business value, and doing the salesmenship required in the world of IT.
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