On IT Savvy

I just finished reading: IT Savvy – What Top Executives Must Know to Go from Pain to Gain – by Peter Weill and Jeanne W. Ross. This book is about transforming IT from a Strategic Liability to a Strategic asset. It covers a wide array of topics ranging from defining your operating model, the funding model, driving value etc. to assist in building a true digitized platform. Regarding the operating model for example, the business needs to define what it expects from its IT department in terms of two axes: standardization and integration. This generate four distinct operating models: Diversification, Replication, Coordination and Unification. Each model poses its own challenges that require IT to address. Once the model is defined, IT will embark on a journey consisting of four stages: Localizing,  Standardizing, Optimizing, and Reusing. Note however that the return on investment made in each stage will not be the same. Particularly as a company shifts into stages 3 and 4, companies will have to make significant investments which will only pay out on the longer term.  A lot of companies struggle with stage 2, as it requires significant changes on the business side. One cannot hope to standardize IT systems if the underlying business processes diverge. A number of examples are given of companies that have made this successful transition, and how they managed to overcome the obstacles. Note that this journey is an on-going one which requires constant effort and refinement to ensure the company is always moving forward.

This book is a good read for business and IS folks alike, as it helps bridge the gap that exists between them. The criticism I have is around the way the book is written. It may have been better to write it as a collection of case studies, which would avoid the duplication in discussing the same example companies and how they employ each aspect discussed.  Overall though, an easy to read informative book about IT execution and how it can be leveraged to build a truly leverage-able IT platform that would give its underlying company a competitive advantage.


Omar Halabieh

IT Savvy

IT Savvy


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