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.
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.