The best business books of 2014 for CIOs
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The best business books of 2014 for CIOs

Kenny MacIver – December 2014

With themes of digital disruption, business transformation, the CIO’s evolving role and more, we pick the books that were essential reading for IT leaders in 2014.

From the unstoppable, disruptive power of digital technology to the rise of the Internet of Things, big data, cloud and wearable devices, the megatrends of 2014 were put into context in the best technology and business books of 2014. We identify the ones that stand out as essential reading for CIOs, with all of them underscoring how the momentous changes underway across business and society are reshaping the role of the CIO as a leader of digitally defined business transformation.
Required reading for IT leaders

The Second Machine Age
Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies
Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

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MIT digital business luminaries Brynjolfsson and McAfee believe that the world is on the cusp on a new economic age that will have even greater impact than the original industrial revolution. As evidence, they point to the accelerated technology change that has begun to remove “many of the limitations of human cognitive capacity.” Think driverless cars, the use of 3D printing in manufacturing, supercomputers cracking health issues, robots taking over many more manual tasks and retail experiences made compellingly personal through the application of big data. They predict huge benefits, but also — potentially — huge inequality too, as the winner-takes-all nature of this revolution may leave many companies, individuals and governments way behind. Exciting, high-stakes times, particularly for the CIOs who are at the vanguard of that digital transformation, they conclude.

• See our exclusive video interview series with MIT professor of digital business Erik Brynjolfsson.

Confessions of a Successful CIO
How the Best CIOs Tackle Their Toughest Business Challenges
Dan Roberts and Brian Watson

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Today’s CIO must be an entirely new breed of technology leader. With ever-changing demands from the business, and in an increasingly technology-centric business environment, they need to be the instigators of game-changing innovations and process improvements that make a profound impact on both the bottom and top line, and to don the cap of a business strategist. Those are not pronouncements from authors and veteran industry observers Roberts and Watson. Rather, they come directly from their line-up of US CIO superstar contacts: Procter & Gamble’s Filippo Passerini, Rebecca Rhoads at Raytheon, Carol Zierhoffer of Bechtel, Union Pacific’s Lynden Tennison, Wayne Shurts of Sysco and previously at Supervalu, and a handful of others. Their collective insight constitutes a CIO playbook for learning how to take risks, respond to crises and create the value that IT is expected to stimulate in a digital age.

• See our exclusive interview with P&G CIO Filippo Passerini

Implementing World Class IT Strategy

How IT Can Drive Organizational Innovation
Peter High

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The head of CIO-advisory firm Metis Strategy, Peter High bases his latest exploration of the world of IT leadership on interviews with 150-plus CIOs, business executives and digital business academics. The follow-up to his 2001 bestseller World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumphs, this more practical book couples the same degree of expert insight with case study material and a step-by-step methodology for transforming the IT organization into a “strategic asset that drives customer value, increases revenues and enhances shareholder wealth.” The input comes from top CIOs from the likes of FedEx, Procter & Gamble, McKesson and many more. Of course, any such metamorphosis does not come unaided; Peter High distils the essence of how CIOs turn close partnerships with business colleagues and suppliers into strategic gains. In sum: a real-world resource of methodologies, templates and best practice for transformational IT.

The Strategic CIO
Changing the Dynamics of the Business Enterprise
Philip Weinzimer

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Today’s CIOs needs to be renaissance men and women, reinventing themselves through questioning, learning and applying new thinking. As such, argues Phil Weinzimer, they are responsible for kindling a revolution that will have a profound impact on corporate strategy now and in years to come. The president of Strategere Consulting defines four phases of IT transformation, each taking the IT organization to a higher value: excel at the delivery of commodity IT and business services; understand the business, while focusing on user experience and improving the business skills of IT people; pursue initiatives that enhance sales margins by reducing costs; and leverage technologies strategically to innovate value. His inspiration for this renaissance revolution are the CIOs of AAA Insurance Group, Fox Entertainment Network, Air Products, Procter & Gamble, Vanguard Health, Baker Hughes, Synopsys, Fedex and more.

• See our exclusive video interview with Philips’s Jeroen Tas on the CIO’s opportunity to lead digital transformation
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The Key
How Corporations Succeed by Solving the World's Toughest Problems
Lynda Gratton

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Never before have corporations been so large, so wealthy, so powerful and so rich in human creativity. And, for Lynda Gratton, professor of management practice at the London Business School, that means they are uniquely placed, not just to build their own resilience and prosper, but also to leverage their core capabilities to tackle some of the world’s toughest social and environmental problems. Driving that shift in the relationship between big businesses and society is the fact that corporations are now engaged with a much wider group of stakeholders consumers, employees, partners, the communities in which their operations are located, the workers in their extending supply chain and, of course, investors and shareholders. That, in turn, demands a sense of responsibility that is much more far-reaching. Executives from Unilever, Danone, IKEA, Zappos, Coca-Cola, Shell, Vodafone, Manpower, Yakult and many more provide strong evidence for Gratton, author of bestsellers The Shift and Hot Spots. The upshot: rather than social commitment being a drain on the bottom line, companies that are good at citizenship actually fare well.

• See our exclusive video interview series with Lynda Gratton.

Staying the Course as a CIO
How to Overcome the Trials and Challenges of IT Leadership
Jonathan Mitchell

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The scale and scope of the challenges facing today’s CIOs — from delivering on the promise of the digital enterprise and the embedding of IT in corporate strategy to managing projects of vast complexity on ever-tighter budgets can naturally lead to a very short tenure for many CIOs, observes Jonathan Mitchell. The chairman of the Global CIO Practice at recruitment firm Harvey Nash, a lecturer on information leadership at London’s CASS Business School, the former CIO and business process improvement director at Rolls-Royce and ex-VP of global services at GlaxoSmithKline, Mitchell offers a master class in how CIOs can successfully navigate through the typical issues which confront — and often afflict — the IT function. The practical advice ranges from overcoming the challenge of managing diverse stakeholders, surviving unscathed from mammoth projects, coping with the ever-changing technology landscape and getting the most out of IT partners — all with the fundamental goal of the IT function realizing its full potential and generating the maximum positive impact for the enterprise. The distillation of 30 years of experience from a CIO who knows the thing or two about an extended shelf-life.

• See how Heathrow Airport’s CIO is rewriting the playbook for successful IT partnerships.

The Innovator’s Method
Bringing the Lean Start-up into Your Organization
Nathan Furr and Jeff Dyer

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As digital technology pervades every facet of business and society, the IT organization finds itself in a unique position to drive and support innovation. But the challenge for large organizations is to establish innovation processes and structures that make them as innovative as the young, nimble start-ups that are seeking to disrupt their markets. The Innovator’s Method provides a set of tools drawn from lean start-ups, design thinking, business model generation and agile software development that “are revolutionizing how new ideas are created, refined and brought to market.” Dyer’s previous book, The Innovator’s DNA, provided a framework for generating ideas and was co-authored with Hal Gregersen and Clay Christensen, bestselling business author and authority on innovation. The new book shows how to make those ideas actually happen, to commercialize them for success by applying an end-to-end process for creating, testing, validating, refining and commercializing new ideas.

• See how energy giant British Gas responded to the threat from digital start-ups by seeding ‘creative disruption’ within its own ranks. 

IT Business Partnerships — A Field Guide
Paving the Way for Business and Technology Convergence
Joseph Topinka

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In these times of digitally fuelled corporate change, it seems inconceivable that IT organizations still have to live with an opaque view of business strategy. But that is still the day-to-day experience of many CIOs. Joe Topinka wants to make sure that every IT executive can confidently walk the corridors of the business and hold forth in the boardroom, galvanizing IT's role in business leadership. The CIO and VP of multichannel commerce at Red Wing Shoe Company and founder of leadership coaching group CIO Mentor, Topinka has developed a partnership program over several years for ensuring business and IT “get” each other, establish a framework for collaboration and work hand-in-hand to drive great results. The business is not always the distant partner; the onus also falls on IT leaders, as Topinka argues, to “understand how the company makes money, what motivates customers, how operations work and how the IT organization connects the dots between all those entities.” A book that applies the Jericho principle to fundamentally demolish the organizational and political barriers between IT and non-IT executives.

• See our exclusive video interview with management guru Seth Godin on grabbing the opportunity to be a lynchpin CIO.

The Innovators


How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

Walter Isaacson

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There is something strange going on when a history of the world’s greatest-ever geeks is a New York Times Top 10 best-seller. The development highlights a new fascination in popular culture with the geniuses and mavericks that lie behind the digital technologies that have come to play such a huge part in people’s lives. From its starting point in the 19th century, The Innovators chronicles the contribution of figures that in earlier decades would have only been heroes to information technology professionals — names like Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, Grace Hopper, Gordon Moore and Vint Cerf. But, while sweeping in scope, this is no dry history of computers. Isaacson brilliantly sketches their lives, eccentricities and breakthrough thinking in jargon-free, often-thrilling prose, putting in context the part each played in the lead up to the digital revolution. His profile of Steve Jobs was the runaway hit of the 2011-12 holiday season, breaking all records for sales of a biography; the inevitable success of The Innovators will have a different impact. It will mean that IT people at all levels — from app programmers to CIOs will be better understood — and appreciated.

• See our exclusive video interviews with some of the world’s big thinkers on why CIOs should be leading the digital revolution.

Also worth checking out

Disrupt IT
A New Model for IT in the Digital Age
Ian Cox

The Glass Cage

Automation and Us
Nicholas Carr

Big Data at Work
Dispelling the Myths, Uncovering the Opportunities
Thomas Davenport

SAP Nation
A Runaway Software Economy
Vinnie Mirchandani

The New Digital Age
Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business
Eric Schmidt

GeekDoctor
Life as a Healthcare CIO
John Halamka

The Future of Work
Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization
Jacob Morgan

Who Owns The Future?
Jason Lanier

CIO 100
The First 100 days as CIO
Gary Buck

First published December 2014
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