Most inspiring books for CIOs and IT leaders

There's no best teacher and companion than a book. Here we have a list of titles that can inspire you in your role as CIO

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A good book can change your life, teach you an important lesson or just continue to inspire you for years to come.

CIOs and IT executives are always looking for new or alternative ways to drive business or implement an innovative new strategy, but it can often be challenging to know the best way to go about this.

One key way to help you better understand the ever-evolving world of technology and its implications on society is to read. Research the technology, read insights from key industry leaders, pick up a book on the subject matter. The more you know, the better prepared you will be for the challenges to come.

Here we have a list of eight fascinating books that will offer you not only food for thought but also practical advice and ways of seeing your role from a radically different perspective.

The Industries of the Future – Alec J. Ross

Having travelled the world as Hilary Clinton’s Senior Advisor for Innovation, Ross knows a thing or two about the impact the changing nature of technology can have on the world.

After experiencing first hand the rise of the internet between 1994 and 2014, Ross attempts to answer the question ‘what’s next?’, predicting the changes we might see over the next decade and the impact they could have on our society.

The book explores the forces that are currently driving global transformation, highlighting how some of them have already presented themselves as a driver of progress or failure, depending on the country in which you live.

Ross also takes a deep dive into industries that are set to shape our global economic future, detailing the potential impact of robotics, artificial intelligence, cybercrime and digital technology. The book ultimately gives readers an informed perspective on how sweeping global trends are affecting the way we live, today and tomorrow

Women in Tech: Take Your Career to the Next Level with Practical Advice and Inspiring Stories - Tarah Wheeler

Like the tech world itself, most books on IT have a male authorship and are mainly intended for a male audience. This book seeks to buck that trend.

Functioning as a tech-oriented career guide, ‘Women in Tech’ alternates between teaching career skills with inspiring personal stories from successful women in tech. Written by a female startup CEO, this book deconstructs the unconscious social bias that tells women they aren't a good fit for tech or IT leadership positions. It also includes contributions by other inspiring women such as Women 2.0 founder Angie Chang and digital technology consultant and angel investor Esther Dyson.

An essential read for women who are considering getting into tech, or women already in tech who want to take their career to the next level and for all those men who want a more equitable and diverse IT industry.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers – Ben Horowitz

Starting a business is hard, running a business is even harder. Having founded a Silicon Valley start-up, Ben Horowitz knows just how true this is.

In this book, Horowitz draws on his own experiences of founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and investing in technology companies to offer practical advice to his readers to help them navigate the kind of problems you don’t learn about in business school.

This isn’t your run of the mill business book, this presents the ugly truth about what it’s really like to run a business; a must read for any current or aspiring C-suite executives.  

The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment - Martin Ford

A recent report by Cisco and Oxford Economics entitled ‘Technology and the Future of ASEAN Jobs’ highlighted the impact of artificial intelligence on the employment landscape of ASEAN's six largest economies by 2028.

In ‘The Rise of the Robots’, technology expert and founder of a Silicon Valley-based software development firm, Martin Ford, outlines the achievements of AI and uses a wealth of economic data to illustrate its societal implications.

From health and education to finance and technology, his warning is stark - all jobs that are on some level routine are likely to eventually be automated, resulting in the death of traditional careers and a hollowed-out middle class.

This is an insightful and necessary read for any CIO concerned about the impact of disruptive technologies on traditional work structures.

The CIO Paradox: Battling the Contradictions of IT Leadership - Martha Heller

The work of CIOs is guided by contradictory needs, whether they're cutting costs while driving innovation or focusing on long-term strategy while concentrating on day-to-day operations.

The CIO Paradox describes how these conflicting forces work and provides guidance on how to handle them through interviews with a variety of leading CIOs.

The book was written by Martha Heller, the founder and CEO of IT executive recruiting firm Heller Search Associates and a regular contributor of sister title CIO.com.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead - Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is undoubtedly best known as the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, holding the role since 2008 and regularly making appearances in front of both media and politicians. However, more recently, Sandberg has turned her hand to business books of which ‘Lean In’ was the first.

‘Lean In’ focuses on business leadership and development for a female perspective, discussing the lack of female representation in government and business leadership positions whilst providing advise to women on how to advance their careers in a field that is overwhelmingly dominated by men.

She explores the barriers that often hold women back as well as the prevalence of internalised discrimination and subtle, everyday sexism that still exists within the workplace. While the target audience of this book is women, it’s an important read whatever your gender to help you better understand the inequalities that still exist.

IT Leadership Manual: Roadmap to Becoming a Trusted Business Partner - Alan R Guibord

Today's CIOs and other IT leaders are often faced with unprecedented leadership and organisational challenges. The entire landscape has changed over the past few years, forcing companies and executives to reinvent themselves to meet these ever-changing expectations.

This manual provides IT leaders with savvy advice and specific recommendations to assist them developing a personal plan for future challenges.

The CIO Playbook: Strategies and Best Practices for IT Leaders to Deliver Value - Nicholas R Colisto

No CIO to read list would be complete without this handy reference book by senior IT executive and author Nicholas Colisto.

‘The CIO Playbook’ is an essential read for CIOs, CEOs and CFOs, providing some practical advice with a seven-point step-by-step framework of: partner, organise, innovate, deliver, support, protect and grow.

In this book, Calisto provides solutions to common issues that concern business leaders and IT practitioners, such as how to partner with business peers and measuring performance. According to readers reviews, The CIO Playbook can help business leaders transform their IT department.

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