The Perfect IT Book for the Business?


By John Parkinson Several times over the past year I have been asked by senior executive colleagues to recommend reading material that would give them a working background on and understanding of enterprise IT. Something along the lines of the "XX for Dummies" series.

Accurate, but not too detailed. Free of jargon, but with a useful glossary of tech speak.

I was surprised to find that this didn't really exist.

I probably scanned thirty or forty possible sources (thank you, Google and Amazon) but most of what I found wasn't really suitable--not focused on the enterprise, too "2.0" or even "3.0"-oriented, too technical, insufficiently accessible, just plain wrong and so on.

I did eventually find something that was almost what my colleagues needed, but even that wasn't quite right.

This is puzzling.

Surely, given how much IT wants to be a partner with the business, someone would have developed the primer for our business colleagues, just as they have developed primers on strategy, finance, marketing and so on for us business-ignorant technologists.

Content would have to come from the IT side--and maybe that's where the problem lies. Maybe we technologists just can't describe what we do in an accessible and understandable way. Or maybe we think that if we let our business buddies see under the hood, they'd figure out that we are (a) incompetent or (b) not necessary.

I don't really believe either of those explanations is true, but I still haven't found the "Introduction to Enterprise IT for Non-Technologists" that I was asked for.

Maybe I didn't look hard enough or in the right places. Maybe someone reading this has the answer.

Or maybe I'll just write one myself...

John Parkinson, the former CTO of TransUnion LLC, has been a technology executive and consultant for over 30 years, advising many of the world's leading companies on the issues associated with the effective use of IT. Click here to read his columns in CIO Insight's print edition.


8 Comments for "The Perfect IT Book for the Business?"

  • Shepherd19Chasity August 11, 2013 4:50 pm

    It is cool that people are able to take the business loans and it opens new opportunities.

  • John Beachboard February 17, 2010 5:33 pm

    A colleague and I are writing a book provisionally titled "IT management for non-IT managers" for use in our MBA IS course. The book draws heavily upon some of the books referenced in earlier comments as well as from ITIL/ITSM literature. Our intent is to publish under creative commons. We will provide drafts to anyone willing to review and comment. We are using early draft in a current class. The response seems to be favorable, but what students are really willing to rip their professors before the class is over?

  • Tony Read February 17, 2010 9:06 am

    The IT Value Network, publishers Wiley, author Tony J. Read, 2009. Worth consideration -- focused on IT investment types and IT value-based mgmt

  • Vesa Tiirikainen February 17, 2010 7:49 am

    Hi, My newest book coming out in April in Finland (and unfortunately at this point only in Finnish) might be just what you are looking for. The book is titled "IT and Better Business," covering most available IT system solutions and guidelines for business to exploit them, avoiding pitfalls and giving guidance plus templates required change and program management. There are several cases from international companies to highlighting success factors, etc. This book is published by Talentum in Finland, so if you want it translated, please contact them (www.talentum.com). Also I want to comment on Bill's comment: lowering business costs is not really the only -- and not always the wisest -- target for using IT. It is in many cases much more important to innovate new business models and generate new revenue. Vesa

  • Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist February 16, 2010 9:43 am

    Two books, both from Peter Weill and Jeanne Ross from the Center for Information Research (CISR) at the MIT Sloan School of Management. The first is their most recent, "IT Savvy: What Top Executives Must Know to Go from Pain to Gain." http://www.amazon.com/Savvy-What-Executives-Must-Know/dp/1422181014 The second is their book on IT Governance. Please don't be fooled by the title. IT Governance is a function of the business, not a function of IT. "IT Governance: How Top Performers Manage IT Decision Rights for Superior Results." http://www.amazon.com/Governance-Performers-Decision-Superior-Results/dp/1591392535 Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist http://community.ca.com/blogs/theitgovernanceevangelist/

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