Review: The New IT

The New ITThe New IT
Jill Dyche

Research has found that almost half of the CEOs described CIOs as being out of touch with the business and unable to understand how to apply IT in new ways. Over half also considered IT “a commodity service purchased as needed.”

So begins Jill Dyche in her examination of the relationship between IT and business. This statement sums up the entire point of this book: IT needs to find a way to be more engaged in the business world. Rather than just selling IT as a “commodity to be purchased,” IT leaders need to learn to show how IT can drive business value.

The author breaks the topic into three major parts — What’s Wrong with IT, Your IT Transformation Toolkit, and Leadership in the New IT. The first section, of course, outlines the litany of problems with IT in the business world today, from not having a seat at the table to being more about process and tools than actually driving business value. The second section contains a set of exercises that might (or might not — as in my case) apply to you and your role in IT leadership. These exercises involve answering questions in a “1-5” survey format, and then tallying a score that will give you some idea of where you stand on various roles and concepts in IT leadership. The final section provides more practical advice, such as the chapter on Fighting the Talent Wars, and Getting and Keeping a Seat at the Table. These chapters contain charts and surveys on how to best hire and keep talent, and how to build and keep trust among business peers.

The overall thrust of the book — as you might imagine — is that IT needs to take a more business centric view of technology work. The focus should be on getting the job done the business needs to do, rather than on “building resumes or playing with new and interesting tools.” The book has a number of interesting features, including infographics, checklists, IT leadership profiles, and “notes to the CEO” about their role in bringing IT into a larger role in the business. Each of these contributes to an easy and interesting read sitting at the intersection of IT and business from a decidedly business point of view.

The one thing to be aware of is the decidedly business point of view presented here. There is good insight into the business’ view of IT and the IT department it gives, but there are some rather ironic statements (see the quote I began this review with as an example) here and there from an engineer’s perspective — I’ll deal with these in later posts, as they deserve longer, more thought out, responses than a book review.

The Bottom Line: This is a good read if you want to understand the business perspective of IT. It may be difficult to apply the lessons to the average engineer, rather than the aspiring or current leader, but it’s still worth reading for the general ideas.

Time to Read: 3 hours

Note: The time to read is the time it took me, roughly speaking, to read this book. YMMV.