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Based on its title IT Savvy, executives may look past this book as another IT advocacy book. You know the kind that says technology will fix everything. Don't make that mistake.

Weill and Ross have created a business book about IT with a clear and concise argument of the role, purpose and contribution IT makes to the enterprise. This is a book executives should read because it clearly states mostly in business terms how executives should think about, lead and fund IT.

Highly recommended for business executives, ignore the title and read the book. CIOs and IT executives should read the book as well and buy copies for their business peers. Corporate and IT strategists should read this book as it have several tools that will help them work together more effectively.

The book's principle term IT Savvy is defined as the ability to use IT to consistently elevate firm performance. It's a good workable definition, not so prescriptive as to lock out innovation, yet not so open as to mean anything to everybody. The book builds on this simple definition with a number of very powerful observations and statements that matter:

> You have to stop thinking about IT as a set of solutions and start thinking about integration and standardization. Because IT does integration and standardization well.

> IT Savvy firms have 20% higher margins than their competitors.

> You need an operating model before you can make sound investments in IT

> IT funding is important, as systems become the firm's legacy that influence, constrain or dictate how business processes are performed. IT funding decision are long term strategic decision that implement your operating model

IT Savvy is based on three main ideas with some commentary from the reviewer.

1- Fix what is broken about IT, which concentrates on having a clear vision on how IT will support business operations and a well-understood funding model. These are two things required for executives to be accountable for IT and its contribution to raising business performance. This is in sharp contrast to situations where IT is delegated and benignly neglected in the enterprise. Sound advice.

2- Build a digitized platform to standardize and automate the processes that are not going to change so you can concentrate on the elements that do change. This is counter-intuitive advice for people who have been told to use IT to chase innovation, but the platform idea is based on studying leading companies and what they do with IT. It may not be sexy, but the platform does drive significant margin, operational and strategic advantage.

3- Exploit the platform for growth by focusing on leading organization changes that drive value from the platform. This is sound advice that is often left out of business and IT books. Once you build a platform for scale, and then lead the company to drive scale across the platform to get benefits. You would not build a house you intended to live in and then not live in it, but many companies build a platform and then run away from it.

The book concludes with an assessment, based on their research that you can take to determine how IT Savvy your business is. The assessment is a very helpful tool for launching the conversation of how to raise business performance.

Strengths

The book is clearly written and very well supported with business based case studies of leading companies like UPS, Proctor & Gamble, Aetna, Seven-Eleven Japan, Pfizer, etc. The cases make for good business based reading and an understanding of what an IT Savvy business looks like.

The book is focused with clear language that makes for an efficient yet in depth read. This is the perfect book for executives who want to learn about raising performance, but do not have the time to study it in depth. There also a number of powerful tools, graphics and frameworks that let you apply the ideas.

The book is not limited to IT. In fact it features in depth discussions of business processes, shared services, management, measurement, operating models etc. Covering these topics in conjunction with IT shows that the authors are clearly concerned with business performance first, second and third.

Challenges

Its minor but readers need to recognize that when you talk about the value of anything, like IT, you tend to refer to the thing a lot. This book uses the word IT a lot and IT Savvy, which may give the reader the impression that it's an IT book. I would advise reading past that term and into what is changing in the business.

The book is short, small format, and only 182 pages. For some that is a real problem, they take brevity as a sign that the book is about marketing the idea than driving the point home. NOT THIS BOOK. The book if focused and I thank the authors for not wandering in the latter chapters just so they could write the traditional 300-page business book.

The book reprise some of the authors earlier works on enterprise architecture and IT governance. This is ok as many readers will not be familiar with this work and the pieces covered here fit well with the overall theme of IT Savvy and demonstrate the authors depth of knowledge.

Many of the main points of the book come at the end of paragraphs or chapters. This makes the book a little difficult to skim-read, something that executives often do. My advice is to take the time to read the words and look out for the nuggets of wisdom toward the end of the chapters. Given that it's a shorter book and the language is clear, I found the extra time to read more than paid off in the extra insight gained.

Overall, a good book, one that should become a foundation for understanding the role of technology in the enterprise.
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on April 28, 2011
"IT Savvy" is a must-have book for every business leader seeking to gain competitive advantage through information technology, and for every Enterprise Architects charged with getting the most IT Value from IT investments.
Authors Peter Weill and Jeanne Ross deliver clear guidance to take your company from IT Challenged to IT Savvy. They distill into very readable form the methods and best practices from their prior two books: "Enterprise Architecture as Strategy" and "IT Governance".
Professors Weill and Ross demonstrate the importance of establishing a business operating model as the basis for IT investments. In the 7-Eleven Japan (SEJ) case study, they show how SEJ transformed IT from strategic liability to strategic asset.
With the business operating model in place, they explain why the IT Funding Model must be aligned, and how other successful companies accomplished this. In the BT case study, Weill & Ross show how the company's leadership fixed the IT Funding Model, created powerful outcome-oriented Business Cases, and achieved transparency into IT investments and results.
The authors then explain how to build the Digital Platform for business execution that enables, automates, and powers the business operating model. The Swiss Re case study shows how this company created its Digital Platform to manage global risk and enhance relationships with its global customers.
They then tackle the challenges of governing the IT Funding Model and individual investments as well as the Digital Platform and its IT estate. In the State Street case study, the authors show how this company employed their Chief Architecture Officer (CAO) and the Office Of Architecture to ensure architectural conformance.
Finally, the secrets to deriving and driving IT value from the Digital Platform are revealed.
If you want to know these secrets, you must buy "IT Savvy"!
__Joseph Starwood
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on July 8, 2010
This is an excellent, easy to read book that sets out a blueprint for getting value from your IT investments, in turn growing the company.

The book is based on empirical knowledge built from studies of over 1800 companies in more than 60 countries.

The classic scenerio for IT is the problem of a piecemeal approach to system design that creates inflexiblity and reduces the ability to enable IT's value proposition: automating and standardising repeatable processes - doing what IT is good at.

Incremental point solutions can never result in a foundation for effective business processes - instead processes rely on the instinct, judgement and attention of the person completing it, introducing variablity and inconsistent outcomes. Your Enterprise Architecture becomes a noodle soup of tangled technologies managed by shifting political alliances throughout the business.

Peter and Jeanne go on to outline how to "Transform IT from Strategic Liability to Strategic Asset".

To start its suggested you need to go about fixing whats broken about IT. You do this in two important steps:

1 Defining your Operating Model: Two questions to consider: how much to standardize business processes, and how much to integrate business processes. Put a stake in the ground as deciding your operating model will be the foundation for all IT decisions in your firm.

2 Revamping Your IT Funding Model: make sure business cases demonstrates Return on Investment, and that your IT purchasing decisions are based on transparent and understood priorties and critera, as defined in the operational model. Everyone should know how prioritization works. They make the excellent suggestion that CEO approval be obtained for exceptions, forcing the requester to spend some political capital to get approval - this reduces the amount of requests to ones really worth fighting for.

Watch what happens on projects, make sure your balance of new growth vs refresh expenditure is right for your company and you understand the risk return profiles of your projects.

Moving towards standardizing processes is a key area of the book and a lifecycle for IT in companies is described in 4 sequential stages:

1. Localizing (establishing unique business value propositions),
2. Standardizing (seeking efficiency, reducing costs),
3. Optimizing (discipled process based on operating model - gains world class predictable enterprise business processes, consistently getting the basics right),
4. Reusing (recycle services for new initiatives and opportunities, increased agility)

The point is made that this is hard work, and can only be achieved with effective governance - The CIO cannot do this alone and Executive buy in is needed from the CEO and senior management team. When you have that you are able to allocate decision rights and accountability. Mechanisms to enable this are described, from individual roles, committess or teams, and formalised processes such as post implementation reviews. The idea is to promote desirable behaviour in the management and use of IT and formalize the lesson's learned processes.

The governance structure should be easily understood by all and used to communicate the decision making accountablity. Senior Exec's should be able to describe how key IT decisions are made.
By clarifying IT decision rights and accountabilty you create capability

The last chapter on enabling this process is about using your new standardised platform to grow the company.

Being IT Savvy pays off. The research demonstrates that firms that are above average on both IT Savvy and IT spending have margins 20% higher than industry average. In contrast firms with less than average spending and savvy have margins 32% lower than their industry. Being IT savvy puts you in a postion to take advantage of future opportunities.

This is a thoughtful, well researched book that I highly recommend. It is a blueprint for successful use and reuse of IT for any company, you will not regret buying this one. Enjoy
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on February 21, 2010
I'm an IT manager, and I really liked this book. Although targeted at business executives, I read it looking for ideas to better pitch and execute business/IT alignment to both senior business and IT management at my organization, and was pleased with what I found.

The book builds the case for business/IT alignment solidly, placing its responsibility within senior management and referring to it as the firm being 'IT savvy'. Essentially, IT savvy companies are shown to clearly define, communicate and commit to strategic objectives and plans, enact one of many strategy/tactical sets for IT to support the strategic outcomes envisioned, effectively govern IT and evolve the plan as it matures.

The detailed case studies really help understand the topics being highlighted, and the candid tone throughout the book lends credibility to the challenges issued to both business and IT. The book defines a number of reference models, terminology and logical constructs in order to condense and systematize the extensive research of MIT's CISR on the topic. I like such academic, structured approach, but other readers may not like it as much.

Be mindful, however, of your expectations regarding the applicability of the ideas in the book if you are not in the right position to exert considerable clout in your organization. In a very particular reference, the book claims that 'businesses have the IT they deserve' (please note: it's not that the book consists of such bold and general statements, a particular reference is being made). If you don't have access or are not willing to recommend this book or discuss it with upper management across the board in your organization, you may be left with a sense of frustration and 'ivory tower' feelings toward the book. I think the ideas actually have plenty of merit, but even with a lot of good will they are hard to implement, as the authors readily admit. Good news is - ROI is high, and as with most business investments the dividends make it worthwhile.
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on August 14, 2015
One of the great things about this book is that it was written for the non IT executive. The operational model concept is very well explained based on ING direct and UPS cases. This book is for those managers and C level executives who lack IT knowledge but want to lead their enterprises sucessfully to the digital journey. I had the privilege to take classes by Peter Weill during my masters degree at MIT. This is by far one of the best books I have ever had.
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on June 26, 2016
I purchased this book to complement my upper division class in Information Systems & Information Technology Management. Mr. Weill presents information in this book in a well curated way. Many of the short stories within this book are very helpful. This is the book for you if you are interested in gaining an inside scoop into real-world IT management.
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on March 17, 2017
Meh
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on May 5, 2016
Excellent second intent of trying to familiarize the TOP EXECUTIVE MANAGERS with the basic decisions they personally have to adopt in order to assure that the chosen TI-System will be really useful for their enterprise.

Obviously the first intent of the autors in their book "Enterprise Architecture as Strategy" unfortunately has failed.
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on May 1, 2010
This book is a wonderful treatise on what companies - and senior management, not just IT - must do to make IT a strategic part of the business that directly contributes to the success (and bottom line!) of their organizations.

If, as an executive, you're looking for a comfort-zone book that allows you to throw everything over the fence to IT... then this book will make you extremely uncomfortable. If you're the type of executive that's frustrated with your IT Department, but are looking for real, working solutions, then this book will give you the roadmap you need to move forward.

Don't be fooled by the focus on major organizations as examples; the principles apply (scaled down, of course) to any size company in any stage of their development. I wholeheartedly recommend this book!
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on June 1, 2013
.... but.... This would not allow for four-and-a-half, and four isn't appropriate. Whether you are a business manager looking to get more IT savvy or an IT manager looking at the business this book has lots of "ah-ha!" moments for you. You will see yourself or others in the text of this - and it offers some concrete examples which were helpful. I literally read from it to a few of our business people to start some conversations. No - I don't work for the bookseller and I'm not the author.... Just a real IT guy....
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