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on 8 March 2016
This book has an impressive feel to it, with the Harvard endorsement and authors who represent a good combination of academia and consultancy. Hunter is a VP from Gartner - well known as specialists in IT consulting - and Westerman is a researcher at MIT, another strong brand. The credibility of the book is strengthened by references to their research and to real issues in top companies such as Intel. It would have been good to have had more in-depth interviews but the clear conclusions and practical approach make up for this deficiency.

Overall this is an excellent book for prospective CIOs and for anyone who is keen to make a contribution to success in an IT department of a major company. I shall be recommending the book as pre-reading for a course we are running on business partnering for IT people in a major company because it contains many of the messages that link to the course objectives. It certainly seems to be the best book around in this area.
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on 11 May 2013
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. Interestingly, in some cases, I have encountered resistance at business leadership level (particularly below CEO level) to CIOs looking to make the agenda more business centric - and operate in the CIO+ role suggested. Perhaps the CIO+ is seen as part threat - challenging long-established processes - in a crowded management space?

Finally I would draw attention to the sections dealing with measuring the value delivered - and this requires upfront planning, attention throughout business/IT projects and effective follow through post implementation. And the commitment is required of everyone - be they internal/ external, IT or business.

The current trend towards increased outsourcing of basic IT facilities and systems provides the opportunity (and the requirement) for CIOs to step up a level. Alternatively, if they don't, CEOs will have to do it themselves or find someone else to help them.

I would encourage managers, in CIO or general management roles, to read the book - and take up the challenges and opportunities highlighted by Hunter and Westerman.
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on 21 August 2013
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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on 16 December 2009
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. Let's face it, IT management isn't a crime thriller genre - but their experience and hard work makes this a smooth and effortless read, all the way through. The reader is rewarded with more lessons, cases and frameworks as the book proceeds. The `four sources' model is probably worth the cover price on its own.

Maintaining a disciplined approach to their writing, Hunter and Westerman have not allowed themselves to wander off into contemporary themes like the impact of consumerization or social technologies, just to be fashionable. Some may miss an analysis of how those trends affect IT management, however most will just be very grateful the authors stuck to job one. At last here's a clear procedural approach a leader can use to advance the IT function and become an equal member of the business leadship team.

Reviewer: Mark Raskino co author of Mastering the Hype Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time, HBSP 2008
[Disclosure: This reviewer works at Gartner with one of the authors.]
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on 28 June 2010
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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on 24 January 2016
Nice guideline for IT guys to get more visibility and power from top management.
Book is tailored for CIO, but development team leads also can get useful ideas from it.
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on 19 June 2016
Great Book & Speedy Delivery!
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on 30 December 2014
Superb.
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