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Real Business of IT: How CIOs Create and Communicate Value [Hardcover]

Richard Hunter , George Westerman
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 13 2009 Gartner
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.

In The Real Business of IT, 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:

-Value for money when your IT department operates efficiently and effectively

-An investment in business performance evidenced when IT helps divisions, units, and departments boost profitability

-Personal value of CIOs as leaders whose contributions to their enterprise go well beyond their area of specialization

The authors show how to communicate about these forms of value with non-IT leaders-so they understand how your firm is benefiting and see IT as the strategic powerhouse it truly is.

Frequently Bought Together

Real Business of IT: How CIOs Create and Communicate Value + The CIO Edge: Seven Leadership Skills You Need to Drive Results
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Product Details

Product Description

About the Author

Richard Hunter is Group Vice President and Gartner Fellow in Gartner Research, a division of Gartner, Inc., the world's largest technology research firm. George Westerman is a research scientist at MIT Sloan School of Management's Center for Information Systems Research (MIT CISR), which Ziff Davis named the world's "most influential IT academic research center." They are coauthors of the award-winning book IT Risk: Turning Business Threats Into Competitive Advantage.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The CIO Handbook for Communicating with Peers Feb. 23 2010
This book, written with for the CIO but applicable to all senior level IT management, provides a terrific framework for communicating with the rest of the company. A challenge that exists in almost every IT shop is communicating the value of IT to the rest of the business successfully. This book provides guidance and easy to incorporate strategies that will turn this challenge around and make every CIO more successful.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real value to IT executives Sept. 25 2009
By Mark P. McDonald - Published on
What is the business value of IT? This is a perennial question that dominates executive discussions. Many have sought to answer this question with fancy algorithms, consulting practices, benchmark data and other tools. However, the question is basic to IT so it should have a basic answer - right? Absolutley and fortunately Hunter and Westerman provide much of the answer in this book.

The Real Business of IT is a clear and focused look at the issue of IT value and the approaches to capture, communicate and increase that value. This book is unique in several respects. It is a book written for CIOs largely based on the experience of CIOs.

The book features extended practices from leading companies like McKesson, Intel, Freescale, Deltak and many others. Building on those sources, Hunter and Westerman explain a simple virtuous cycle for driving IT value. They illustrate this cycle with about a dozen concepts that CIOs can use tomorrow to change the way they talk about value.

Hunter and Westerman make good use of these resources creating a book that is filled accessible information. One of the ways they do this is through using analogies from outside of IT. This not only makes the ideas easy to understand but also it gives the CIOs stories that they can use to inform and educate their business peers about IT.

This book helps CIOs avoid common value traps that limit the view of IT's value in the enterprise. It then goes on to build the tools and techniques to demonstrate the value for money in IT, how IT helps run, grow and transform the enterprise, manage IT's unit costs, and other key concepts.

The book is tuned and intended for CIOs and IT executives, rather than business executives. This is not to say business executives should not read this book, its just that it is not written for them. By focusing on CIOs, the authors avoid much of the complexity found in other books. This should be taken as a strength since that focus enables the authors to clearly provide practices and tools that CIOs can use.

The business value of IT sits in the conversations within your enterprise not in compliance with some industry standard. Therefore, I would suggest that CIOs use this book with their teams to build that conversation, in their terms and their situation.

This book is highly recommended for CIOs and IT executives all of whom will face the need to answer questions about the value of IT. In this book, CIOs will learn directly from the authors as well as the insights of leading CIOs and their examples. This is a powerful combination that makes the investment in The Real Business of IT a good value.


Anchoring IT value solidly in terms of business performance. This is critical to establishing a clear and unequival way of measuring the value of IT.
Actionable and practical advise that comes directly from CIO experience.

Contains positive and negative examples on the business value of IT

Clearly illustrated tables and tools that CIOs can put into action quickly

References actual performance data and metrics

Uses non-IT analogies and stories that facilitate both understanding IT value issues and CIOs to use these analogies to make their own case in the enterprise.


While the book is strong in terms of tools and advice, many of these specfics are generic. This means that CIOs will have to tailor these tools to their own situation. This is not a big weakness, as CIOs should not simply implement solutions blindly.

Business executives often express value in terms of financial measures and terms. While the book advises CIOs to focus on business performance, it could have done with some expanded financial content.

The latter chapters that discuss BPR and organizations change cover them in a traditional way. This reinforces the importance of creating value beyond more than just IT.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful and Practical Advice but very Verbose Jan. 4 2012
By Raja Valiveti - Published on
Approach suggested by Authors is basic commonsense, but definitely relevant, useful and practical, which many people miss out. However this could have been articulated in just a few dozen pages, perhaps as a main article in a magazine rather than a 200 page long book. Result is verbose text, with plenty of repetition and many needless references to what contemporary CIOs, CxOs told the authors or in magazine interviews. What would have helped is giving a set of structured/concrete Checklists/Benchmarks either directly or in the case studies to supplement the suggested value creation 'framework'.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best IT book I ever read Jan. 10 2010
By Suzandeise Thome - Published on
How do we fix IT's problems? Well, Hunter and Westerman gave us the answer: pick up more work! Yes, and it actually does make sense. Be responsible for MORE things and your success rate will increase.

This book is about how to really deliver value from IT. It is based on changing IT's mindset. You've probably read much on this topic before, but this book sums it all up and more. And it does have suggestions that can be readily applied.

Every manager in IT should read this book!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "'Must Read" book June 19 2011
By Khaled Ismail - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a book that every IT manager or CIO must read. It discuss and explain the challenges of the relationship IT/Business, give concrete set of priciples and examples with useful recommendations on how to master the challenge and create and communicate value for and to business.It is written in a very clear, easy to read and understand language.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Business of IT Exposed July 9 2010
By Ruckus - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Gartner nailed this one. This book focuses on what is really important when running an IT organization. No wasted time talking about team building, SOA, or any other buzzwords of the day. It is all about driving business value, and doing the salesmenship required in the world of IT.
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