9 must-read books for digital leaders

Pack these books from MIT Press and MIT Sloan CIO Symposium speakers in your summer getaway bag to stay on top of digital business wisdom
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This week’s MIT Sloan CIO Symposium brings together MIT academics and CIOs to discuss how IT leaders can overcome today's biggest challenges, around topics such as culture and talent,  as they strive to create  smarter enterprises in the digtal age. 

The Enterprisers Project is attending, and we’ll bring you our top learnings after the event. In the meantime, we picked nine books from MIT Press and MIT Sloan CIO Symposium speakers that we think IT leaders will value.

Whether you are packing your carry-on for the symposium in Cambridge or planning a summer trip, check out these must-reads on topics from artificial intelligence to digital transformation

Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream

By: Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson

Description (Amazon): “The American economy glitters on the outside, but the reality is quite different. Job opportunities and economic growth are increasingly concentrated in a few crowded coastal enclaves. Corporations and investors are disproportionately developing technologies that benefit the wealthiest Americans in the most prosperous areas – and destroying middle class jobs elsewhere. To turn this tide, we must look to a brilliant and all-but-forgotten American success story and embark on a plan that will create the industries of the future – and the jobs that go with them. Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson tell the story of this first American growth engine and provide the blueprint for a second.”

The AI Advantage: How to Put the Artificial Intelligence Revolution to Work (Management on the Cutting Edge)

By: Thomas H. Davenport

Description (Amazon): “Thomas Davenport offers a guide to using artificial intelligence in business. He describes what technologies are available and how companies can use them for business benefits and competitive advantage. He cuts through the hype of the AI craze to explain how businesses can put artificial intelligence to work now, in the real world. His key recommendation: don’t go for the ‘moonshot’ (curing cancer, or synthesizing all investment knowledge); look for the ‘low-hanging fruit’ to make your company more efficient. This book provides an invaluable guide to the real-world future of business AI.”

When Innovation Moves at Digital Speed: Strategies and Tactics to Provoke, Sustain, and Defend Innovation in Today’s Unsettled Markets (Digital Future of Management)

By: MIT Sloan Management Review

Description (Amazon): “All organizations grapple with what digitalization means for their business and, in particular, how digital forces will drive their approaches to innovation. But very few organizations have clearly defined the scale, speed, and scope of their engagement with the digital world. These essays, from the pages of the preeminent journal MIT Sloan Management Review, offer practical advice from experts on how to create, facilitate, and manage innovation in and for today’s digital markets.”

IT Savvy: What Top Executives Must Know to Go from Pain to Gain

By: Peter Weill and Jeanne W. Ross

Description (Amazon): “Digitization of business interactions and processes is advancing full bore. But in many organizations, returns from IT investments are flatlining, even as technology spending has skyrocketed. These challenges call for new levels of IT savvy: the ability of all managers-IT or non-IT-to transform their company’s technology assets into operational efficiencies that boost margins. Companies with IT-savvy managers are 20 percent more profitable than their competitors. In IT Savvy, Peter Weill and Jeanne Ross – two of the world’s foremost authorities on using IT in business – explain how non-IT executives can acquire this savvy. Concise and practical, the book describes the practices, competencies, and leadership skills non-IT managers need to succeed in the digital economy.”

Ross will review her upcoming new book, “Designed for Digital,” highlighting five building blocks companies will need for a successful transformation at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. 

The Technology Fallacy: How People Are the Real Key to Digital Transformation (Management on the Cutting Edge)

By: Gerald C. Kane, Anh Nguyen Phillips, Jonathan R. Copulsky, and Garth R. Andrus

Description (Amazon): “Digital technologies are disrupting organizations of every size and shape, leaving managers scrambling to find a technology fix that will help their organizations compete. This book offers managers and business leaders a guide for surviving digital disruptions – but it is not a book about technology. It is about the organizational changes required to harness the power of technology. The authors argue that digital disruption is primarily about people and that effective digital transformation involves changes to organizational dynamics and how work gets done. The best way to respond to digital disruption is by changing the company culture to be more agile, risk tolerant, and experimental.”

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future

By: Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson

Description (Amazon): “We live in strange times. A machine plays the strategy game Go better than any human; upstarts like Apple and Google destroy industry stalwarts such as Nokia; ideas from the crowd are repeatedly more innovative than corporate research labs. MIT’s Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson know what it takes to master this digital-powered shift: we must rethink the integration of minds and machines, of products and platforms, and of the core and the crowd. In all three cases, the balance now favors the second element of the pair, with massive implications for how we run our companies and live our lives.”

McAfee will give an advance look at his upcoming new book “More From Less” during his closing keynote at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. 

Real Business of IT: How CIOs Create and Communicate Value

By: Richard Hunter and George Westerman

Description (Amazon): “If you’re a general manager or CFO, do you feel you’re spending too much on IT or wishing you could get better returns from your IT investments? If so, it’s time to examine what’s behind this IT-as-cost mind-set. Richard Hunter and George Westerman reveal that the cost mind-set stems from IT leaders’ inability to communicate about the business value they create-so CIOs get stuck discussing budgets rather than their contributions to the organization. The authors explain how IT leaders can combat this mind-set by first using information technology to generate three forms of value important to leaders throughout the organization.”

Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy - and How to Make Them Work for You

By: Geoffrey G. Parker, Marshall W. Van Alstyne, and Sangeet Paul Choudary

Description (Amazon): “Written by three of the most sought-after experts on platform businesses, Platform Revolution is the first authoritative, fact-based book on platform models. Whether platforms are connecting sellers and buyers, hosts and visitors, or drivers with people who need a ride, Geoffrey G. Parker, Marshall W. Van Alstyne, and Sangeet Paul Choudary reveal the what, how, and why of this revolution and provide the first ‘owner’s manual’ for creating a successful platform business.”

How Smart Machines Think

By: Sean Gerrish

Description (Amazon): “The future is here: Self-driving cars are on the streets, an algorithm gives you movie and TV recommendations, IBM’s Watson triumphed on Jeopardy over puny human brains, computer programs can be trained to play Atari games. But how do all these things work? In this book, Sean Gerrish offers an engaging and accessible overview of the breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and machine learning that have made today’s machines so smart. Gerrish weaves the stories behind these breakthroughs into the narrative, introducing readers to many of the researchers involved, and keeping technical details to a minimum. Science and technology buffs will find this book an essential guide to a future in which machines can outsmart people.”

[ Could AI solve that problem? Get real-world lessons learned from CIOs in the new HBR Analytic Services report, An Executive's Guide to Real-World AI. ]

Carla Rudder is a community manager and program manager for The Enterprisers Project. She enjoys bringing new authors into the community and helping them craft articles that showcase their voice and deliver novel, actionable insights for readers.