Review: The Executive’s Guide to Information Technology

3 Star, Information Technology

Executive ITWith Regret, Must Give This Earnest Effort a Three, July 30, 2008

John Baschab

Few people know that I was responsible for developing the original advanced information technology applications in pilot (artificial intelligence, expert systems, natural language understanding, smart maps with a memory of operational history, etcetera) for the CIA, and served on both the Advanced Information Processing and Analysis Steering Group and on the Information Handing Committee, both national level secret bodies. I also stood up the USMC Intelligence Center (today a Command) and wasted $20 million on the wrong high-end “stuff” while neglecting access to external content.

This book has an identity problem. On the one hand, it claims to be a guide for executives (who: CEO, corporate vice presidents, division chiefs?), and on the other, it provides an enormous amount of detail about managing the information technology investment and operations–information I would expect my CTO to have firmly in hand before he or she ever got hired.

This book (second edition published in 2007) also fails to mention:

Analytics or analytic tradecraft
Anomaly detection
Cloud computing
Data mining
External sources
Knowledge management
Pattern analysis
Semantic web
Social networks
Web 2.0 (or 3.0 or 4.0)

Return on Investment (RoI) is defined on page xvi and not mentioned again, at least according to the index, which is where I decide whether a large volume is worth my time. This index–this book–failed that test.

Decision making gets one reference (page 525), decision trees get two pages (310, 467).

Business intelligence and competitive intelligence do not appear in this book (according to the index).

Risk management focuses on management of the IT investment risk, not on risk management of every aspect of the organization from personnel to facilities to production to inventory to supplier vetting and so on.

Bottom line: this is a university primer for kids hoping to one day be a Chief Technology Officer. It is NOT a guide for executives. It is a summary of what the top three CTO folks should have in their DNA from day one (which is often not the case).

I am guided in my crankiness by Peter Drucker, who wrote in Forbes ASAP of 28 August 1998, that we have spent the last fifty years focusing on the T in IT, and now need to spend the next 50 years focusing on the I in IT. Generally, IT provides both a *negative* return on investment, and does nothing to create, nurture, and exploit “organizational intelligence.” Enough said.

Other books that I prefer to this one:
The Politics of Information Management: Policy Guidelines
The Business Value of Computers – An Executive’s Guide (Information Technology Findings and Recommendations)
Information Payoff: The Transformation of Work in the Electronic Age
Building a Knowledge-Driven Organization
The Knowledge Executive
The exemplar: The exemplary performer in the age of productivity
Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
Organizational Intelligence (Knowledge and Policy in Government and Industry)
One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization

See also the books I have published.