CIOs wish for simpler ways to wrangle data and experiment with business models – but change remains hard to scale. Also, it may be time to stop chasing “alignment.”
10 digital transformation book recommendations for IT and business leaders
We scoured the internet to find the most highly-rated and recommended books on digital transformation. We hope these books can help you on your quest to chart your organization’s path forward in this ever-changing digital world.
By: David L. Rogers
Book Description: Every business begun before the Internet now faces the same challenge: How to transform to compete in a digital economy? Globally recognized digital expert David L. Rogers argues that digital transformation is not about updating your technology but about upgrading your strategic thinking. Based on Rogers's decade of research and teaching at Columbia Business School, and his consulting for businesses around the world, "The Digital Transformation Playbook" shows how pre-digital-era companies can reinvigorate their game plans and capture the new opportunities of the digital world.
Why you should read it: Aimed at enterprise IT leaders, this book looks at how established organizations with legacy technology can transform themselves into digital organizations. And it offers a step-by-step guide for doing it. According to one Amazon reviewer: "There is absolutely no reason upstart digital companies have to supplant established firms. There is no reason new businesses have to be the only engines of innovation. The problem, according to David Rogers in this book, is that – in many cases – management simply doesn't have a playbook to follow to understand and then address the competitive challenges of digitization. This book aims to fulfill that role, helping you understand, strategize for, and compete on the digital playing field."
Book Description: There is no simple strategic method for dealing with the multidimensional nature of digital change. Even the sharpest leaders can become disoriented as change builds on change, leaving almost nothing certain. Yet to stand still is to fail. "Digital to the Core" makes the case that all business leaders must understand the impact the digital revolution will continue to play in their industries, companies, and leadership style and practices. Drawing on interviews with over 30 top C-level executives in some of the world's most powerful companies and government organizations, including GE, Ford, Tory Burch, Babolat, McDonalds, Publicis and UK Government Digital Service, this book delivers practical insights from those on the front lines of major digital upheaval.
Why you should read it: If you're hoping to create digital transformation in your organization, this book will help you make it happen. One Amazon reviewer wrote: "Now is the time for CEO action on a comprehensive digital transformation agenda that will result in a strategic competitive advantage. Raskino and Waller, two experienced Gartner senior analysts, believe that one of the greatest ongoing challenges that executives will face is convincing their organizations to take a progressive path toward a digital-enabled future. Every business, no matter how long they've been in existence, has the opportunity to digitally remaster their business model – and their associated products and services. The book is about the process of forward-thinking renewal. The authors provide a pragmatic framework for savvy leaders to remap their industry, remodel their enterprise and also remake themselves."
By: Jeff Loucks, James Macaulay, Andy Noronha and Michael Wade
Book Description: In this book, you will learn how to use the business models and strategies of startups to your own advantage. Instead of waiting to be disrupted, you can maximize the value of your existing businesses and move into profitable new ones. Most importantly, you will learn how to build the agility to anticipate threats, sense opportunities, and seize them before your rivals do. With recommendations backed by research with thousands of senior executives from market leaders and startups alike, this book gives you a compass to chart your own course – to compete with disruptors and win.
Why you should read it: They say if you don't disrupt yourself, a startup or competitor will do it for you. This book tells CIOs and IT leaders at large organizations how to do just that. Daniel Pink says: "Name an industry, and odds are it's being disrupted by competitors deploying digital technology. 'Digital Vortex' is a research-based look at this phenomenon, as well as a savvy guide to how your company can gain the nimbleness required in this new environment."
By: Martha Heller
Book Description: In her trademark journalistic, witty style, Martha Heller creates a profile of what successful CIOs are doing to lead IT in a climate where technology belongs to everyone. Most importantly, she defines the top 10 skills and behaviors that CIOs need to develop if they are going to be successful in an ever-changing landscape.
Why you should read it: With her advice to "be the business," Heller gets at the heart of what CIOs are trying to achieve. Mark Settle, CIO of Okta, had this to say: "Large enterprise CIOs used to function as traffic cops regulating the selection, implementation and use of information technology. To be successful in today's world, they need to serve as a concierge of IT capabilities, providing the advice and suggestions their companies need to leverage new and emerging technologies." No one is more aware of this role reversal than Martha Heller. "Be the Business" is a useful reskilling guide for smart CIOs who are prepared to embrace their new roles as technology coaches instead of being technology quarterbacks. Read our Q&A with Martha Heller for more takeaways from this book.
Book Description: Based on years of research by the directors of the McKinsey Global Institute, "No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Forces Breaking all the Trends" is a timely and important analysis of how we need to reset our intuition as a result of four forces colliding and transforming the global economy.
Why you should read it: Digital transformation, and discussions about why to undertake it, take place in the context of larger strategic questions and must take into account the overall forces that are reshaping our world. These McKinsey experts provide a well-written and comprehensive look at four forces affecting business in the future: the shift of the bulk of economic activity toward what used to be called "emerging markets;" the rapid rise of technology, which has an ever-greater impact on business; the aging population; and the increasingly free flow of commerce, capital, information and people across national borders.
By: Jill Dyché
Book Description: With the onslaught of cloud solutions, consumerization of technology, and increasingly tech-savvy business people, it's time for a manifesto for leaders who recognize – and are nervous about – the demands of the digital age. Whether you're an executive, department head, or IT manager, "The New IT" provides an action-ready blueprint for building and strengthening the role of IT in your company – and prescribing IT's future. It also includes real-world case studies and best practices from successful, technology-enabled companies such as Toyota, Merck, Brooks Brothers, Union Bank, and many others. You'll hear from major industry pioneers, IT thought leaders, and other change agents who are leading the way in this new frontier. And you'll learn how to bring your business and IT together in a way that is truly transformative.
Why you should read it: Besides tackling the question of "shadow IT" and IT's ever-lessening ability to oversee and control all technology throughout a large organization, Dyché's book provides a blueprint for better business-IT alignment. Peter Weill and Jeanne Ross of MIT had this to say: "Everywhere I go I hear complaints about the old IT. Jill Dyché's book provides a comprehensive roadmap to changing IT to suit our analytical, consumer-driven, bring-your-own-device times!"
Book Description: This practical guide presents lean and agile principles and patterns to help you move fast at scale – and demonstrates why and how to apply these methodologies throughout your organization, rather than with just one department or team. Through case studies, you'll learn how successful enterprises have rethought everything from governance and financial management to systems architecture and organizational culture in the pursuit of radically improved performance.
Why you should read it: Digital transformation begins with adopting lean and agile principles – otherwise you'll never be able to make it happen. This short book brings together many of these principles and helps readers see how to apply them in a large enterprise as opposed to a small startup. One Amazon reviewer says: "It clearly explains how the disciplines of lean, agile, kata, lean startup, and design thinking are converging through the unifying principles of an adaptive learning organization. The authors show how to grow organizations which can innovate rapidly in response to changing market conditions, customer needs, and emerging technologies."
Book Description: In "Leading Digital," authors George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee highlight how large companies in traditional industries – from finance to manufacturing to pharmaceuticals – are using digital to gain strategic advantage.
Why you should read it: Says one Amazon reviewer: "'Leading Digital' represents the culmination of a multi-year study of digital technologies impact on the organization. This makes 'Leading Digital' different, in the sense that other books on the subject either concentrate on technology hype, product innovation or disruption. By focusing on the organizational impact of digital, Westerman, Bonnet and McAfee, create a simple, clear and compelling framework for categorizing companies and their attitudes toward digital technology." Many executives, bloggers and reviewers seem to agree that this is the book on the subject of digital transformation.
The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations
Book Description: More than ever, the effective management of technology is critical for business competitiveness. For decades, technology leaders have struggled to balance agility, reliability, and security. And yet, high performers using DevOps principles, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Etsy, and Netflix, are routinely and reliably deploying code into production hundreds, or even thousands, of times per day. Following in the footsteps of The Phoenix Project, The DevOps Handbook shows leaders how to replicate these incredible outcomes, by showing how to integrate product management, development, QA, IT operations, and information security to elevate your company and win in the marketplace.
Why you should read it: The much-anticipated follow-up to the 2013 novel about DevOps, "The Phoenix Project," this book is the prescriptive, nonfiction companion guide answering the question: "How can I replicate a DevOps approach in my organization?" One Amazon reviewer had this to say: "This book gives clear and engrossing advice on how to improve your organization. For too long, IT organizations have languished with limited speed and agility. Many organizations are embattled and simply fighting for their lives. They've run out of tools and ideas on how to dig themselves out of the technical debt they've accumulated over the years. Fortunately, 'DevOps Handbook' gives concrete proof and ideas on how organizations can dig out this hole." Read our Q&A with Gene Kim for more takeaways from this book.
By: Amy C. Edmondson and Susan Salter Reynolds
Book Description: Amy C. Edmondson and Susan Salter Reynolds explore large-scale systemic innovation that calls for "big teaming": intense collaboration between professions and industries with completely different mindsets. This demands leadership combining an expansive vision with deliberative incremental action – not an easy balance.
Why you should read it: In the book, the authors explore a startup that staked its future on the concept of digital transformation and, in the process, teach the reader about digital transformation and the collaboration needed to make it effective. "A case study of an unusually interesting startup that offers thoughtful general advice for any business looking to do something really ambitious," says one Amazon reviewer.
(Editor's Note: When this article was originally published, we ran a Twitter contest. The contest officially closed at 11:59 p.m. Nov. 18, 2016. Thank you to all who entered.)