Best business books of 2015 for IT leaders
Illustration: Bill Butcher
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Best business books of 2015 for IT leaders

Kenny MacIver — December 2015
With big themes of digital disruption, the emergence of truly intelligent machines and the CIO’s evolving role, we pick the books of 2015 that are essential reading for IT leaders.

From the exponential rise of digital to the need for new organizational models, the business and technology imperatives of 2015 were put into clear perspective by the best management books of year. We highlight 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 leadership across increasingly digitally driven organizations.
Required reading for CIOs

The Network Always Wins
How to Survive in the Age of Uncertainty
Peter Hinssen
The Network Always Wins
Having established that digital is The New Normal for business and society with his eponymously titled 2011 book, technology thought-leader, entrepreneur and university lecturer Peter Hinssen explores the forces acting in concert to empower the new breed of business ecosystems such as Airbnb, Uber, Alibaba and Facebook that are overwhelming traditional markets. The upshot: in an era where digitally driven network models have unbeatable advantages, CXOs need to reinvent their organizations so they act like a network and tap into these forces.
• See our exclusive video interview series with business author Peter Hinssen.

The Open Organization
Igniting Passion and Performance
Jim Whitehurst
The Open Organization Jim Whitehurst
Open source software giant Red Hat has evolved an organizational culture that it considers a catalyst for innovation and competitive advantage. The Open Organization, as CEO Jim Whitehurst defines it, is the antitheses of top-down command and control management. Instead, its success is fuelled by the building of dynamic communities of employees, partners and customers, underpinned by expectations of transparency, authenticity and participation. Drawing on case studies of other companies that thrive on such openness — Pixar, Zappos, Starbucks, Whole Foods and others — Whitehurst maintains that such collaborative models are now a precondition when responding to ever-changing customer demand and constantly disrupted markets.

Disrupting Digital Business
Create an Authentic Experience in the Peer-to-Peer Economy
Ray Wang
Disrupting Digital Business Ray Wang
The founder and principal analyst of the Silicon Valley-based analyst group Constellation Research provides an overview of the bold steps companies need to take to survive and prosper as the digital revolution unfolds and markets, industries and brands are shaken up. They need to be able to live in a constant state of transformation; to be capable of customizing their offerings on a massive scale; to show authenticity to customers in the face of business transparency; to always be conscious of their next move and intention; and to exploit new networking organizational models that open up the business to co-creation and co-innovation. As relevant for business owners and CEOs as it is for CIOs and CDOs.
• See Ray Wang on  ‘The four personas of the next-generation CIO’

The New IT
How Technology Leaders are Enabling Business Strategy in the Digital Age
Jill Dyché
The New IT by Jill Dyché
Aimed at the heads of both business and IT organizations, The New IT provides a road map for invigorating the archetypal IT function and putting it at the heart of business strategy. And with a pressing need, says CRM/data warehousing expert, keynote speaker and business author Jill Dyché, who is VP of best practice at SAS Institute. Like no time before, IT needs to be central to C-suite decision-making on embracing digital, the stimulation of innovation, the exploiting of big data, the effective management of talent and so much more. Drawing on conversations with a line-up of A-list business and tech leaders, Dyché shows how CIOs and CTOs can go about taking — and owning — a seat at the management board table.

Strategy Rules
Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove and Steve Jobs
David Yoffie and Michael Cusumano
Strategy Rules by David Yoffie and Michael Cusumano
It may have been years since Gates, Grove and Jobs were at the respective helms of Microsoft, Intel and Apple, but this book distils the essence of their brilliant (as well as flawed) decisions, making it as relevant to business leaders today as it was when these three were shaping our digital world. Harvard Business School’s David Yoffie and MIT Sloan School of Management’s Michael Cusumano had unprecedented access to the three tech titans over a period of 30 years and formulate five fundamental rules that underpin their approaches to strategic decision-making: Look forward, reason back; Make big bets, without betting the company; Build platforms and ecosystems; Exploit leverage and power; Shape the company around your ‘personal anchor.’ An essential perspective for CEOs and ambitious CXOs.

Humans are Underrated
What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will
Geoff Colvin
cropped staying the course as a CIO 200x307
2015 was the year when the mass media became convinced that artificial intelligence (AI) and robots had become a reality. From driverless cars and medical diagnoses to domestic robots and educational instructors, computers now promise to take over and perform many tasks, more reliably and often less expensively than people. Fortune magazine’s senior editor at large Geoff Colvin asks critical questions about how the rise of AI will change the dynamics of employment for many millions of people. While there will inevitably be a large-scale displacement of people in the employment market, Colvin argues that our essentially human abilities — empathy, creativity, social sensitivity, storytelling, humor, building relationships and expressing ourselves with greater power than logic can ever achieve — will allow us to create evolving and durable value that is not easily replicated by technology. The uplifting conclusion: “As technology advances, we shouldn’t focus on beating computers at what they do — we’ll lose that contest. Instead, we must develop our most essential human abilities and teach our kids to value not just technology but also the richness of interpersonal experience.”

Data and Goliath
The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World
Bruce Schneier
cropped IT Business Partnerships 200x302
Can privacy and big data co-exist harmoniously? The latest book from Bruce Schneier, the industry’s most prolific and insightful security author, explores how the power to track and analyze vast amounts of data is increasingly impacting our lives — to both positive and negative effect. While drawing on his insider’s knowledge to reveal the scale and inscrutable methods used by governments and companies to gather data on individuals, he is not without constructive guidance. The book concludes with a set of intelligent principles for the engagement between organizations and individuals to preserve the basic human right of privacy without disrupting the imperatives of state security or the commercial advantages (and many benefits) that can flow from big data analytics.

Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

Herminia Ibarra

Leading Digital Strategy
Naturally, everyone at the top of business aspires to lead with greater impact. The problem is they’re busy executing on today’s demands. Herminia Ibarra, professor of leadership and learning at INSEAD business school, shows how managers and executives at all levels can step up to leadership by making small but crucial changes in their jobs, their networks and their behaviour. In Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader she offers advice on how executives can redefine their roles in order to make more strategic contributions; diversify their network so that they connect to — and learn from — a bigger range of stakeholders; and, indeed, become more playful with their self-concept, allowing their familiar and possibly outdated leadership styles to evolve. Rather than overthinking decisions before acting, Ibarra advocates a large dose of ‘outsight’ — the valuable external perspective gained from direct experiences and experimentation. That helps define what kind of work is important; how leaders should invest their time; why — and which — relationships matter in informing and supporting leadership; and, ultimately, who you, as a leader, want to become.

Also high on the I-CIO reading list

Humans Need Not Apply
A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
Jerry Kaplan

The Future of the Professions

How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts
Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind

No Ordinary Disruption
The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends
Richard Dobbs, James Manyika and Jonathan Woetzel

The Rise of the Robots
Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment
Martin Ford

Alibaba's World
How a Remarkable Chinese Company is Changing the Face of Global Business
Porter Erisman

China's Disruptors
How Alibaba, Xiaomi, Tencent, and Other Companies are Changing the Rules of Business
Edward Tse

Why Information Grows
The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies
César Hidalgo

Elon Musk
How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping Our Future
Ashlee Vance

The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy
Brian Robertson

The Internet is Not the Answer
Andrew Keen

Zero to One
Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future
Peter Thiel

The secret history of computers and spies
Gordon Corera

First published December 2015
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