12 Books Every CTO/CIO Should Read in 2020

Can you make 2020 the best year for your career despite the challenging times?

Whether it’s new objectives, challenges, or a new strategy, learning is key to success in any leadership position. After all, being a leader requires skill, dedication, and knowledge, all of which need to be improved upon with new information. Luckily, there are books coming out every year dedicated to business and tech executives and the information they need to succeed both personally and professionally. We went through loads of books meant for tech leaders to compile a list of 12 of the latest and greatest must-reads for CTOs and CIOs; hopefully there’s room on your bookshelf!

The AI Advantage: How to Put the Artificial Intelligence Revolution to Work by Thomas Davenport

Ever since artificial intelligence debuted, people have had extremely high hopes for its possibilities. Though we’ve yet to see an AI-based cancer cure yet, author Thomas Davenport has a better, more realistic perspective of AI and what it can do for your business. In The AI Advantage, Davenport explains how looking at the smaller applications of AI versus over-idealizing it can make your company more efficient. This book takes readers through solid applications of AI in business processes, some less obvious than others, that can change businesses for the better. Instead of taking the route of viewing AI as a replacement for human work, Davenport proves that AI can augment the work of employees, working side-by-side with them to enhance the way companies operate. The AI Advantage is a great read for any person looking for a more realistic perspective on AI’s capabilities in business operations that don’t promise unobtainable goals and can be applied immediately for near-instant results.

CTO: A Complete Guide 2019 by Gerardus Blokdyk

To solve challenges and achieve goals, you need a process. While implementing a process, a good leader needs to be able to step back, look at the big picture and say “What are we trying to accomplish?” This book allows CTOs and other business leaders to assess themselves and identify areas where improvements can be made so you can always be asking the right questions. Previous versions of CTO: A Complete Guide have been received very well by business leaders, and the newest version is no different. If you think you don’t need to read this because you’ve read a previous version, think again—the 2019 version has been updated with over 1900 new questions to help you find core areas of your leadership and thought process that need attention.

Leading Exponential Change: Go Beyond Agile and Scrum to Run Even Better Business Transformations by Eric R. Buhler

Buhler has years of first-hand experience regarding the changes companies are facing and the ways in which they must adapt if they hope to succeed. In Leading Exponential Change, he goes through the actions and mindsets business leaders must have in order to embrace and encourage change within their organizations. Whether you’re a manager, Agile expert, or scrum master, this book will open your mind to the unique challenges different companies are facing in the modern world and how to up your game regarding the promotion of rapid, positive change within your company. Buhler proves through his well-studied points that even having the right people on board isn’t enough; you need the right mindset to truly lead exponential change, and he will show you how to obtain it.

The Connector Manager: Why Some Leaders Build Exceptional Talent—and Others Don’t by Jaime Roca, Sari Wilde

Gartner Analysts Jaime Roca and Sari Wilde conducted a study involving over 9,000 people globally and found four distinct types of managers. One type performs remarkably better than the rest, and it wasn’t the group they were expecting. They called this group “Connecter Managers,” and found that their ability to connect employees in their team and develop new skills made them perform significantly better than the rest. This book is perfect for any leader looking to learn new ways to enhance their management skills and support their employees to build a better and more productive team.

The CTO ¦ CIO Bible: The Mission Objectives Strategies and Tactics Needed To Be a Super Successful CTO by Rorie Devine

When author Devine calls this book a CTO/CIO bible, he isn’t kidding. Devine has a plethora of experience in over twenty interim and permanent CIO/CTO positions, has been featured on the cover of the CIO Magazine twice, and has overseen three successful startups throughout his career. His insightful book goes through everything you need to be a successful CIO or CTO, covering over 100 topics related to values, tactics and game-changers that any CIO or CTO can apply to their work. In addition to being extremely informative, educational, and never beating around the bush, Devine wrote The CTO | CIO Bible in an entertaining and digestible manner, allowing you to absorb his lessons and advice easily and have fun while doing it. Without a doubt, if this book isn’t in your repertoire already, it should be in your shopping cart this year!

Designed for Digital: How to Architect Your Business for Sustained Success by Jeanne w. Ross

In Designed for Digital, Ross gives advice and tips to redesign and prepare “old” companies for success in the digital world. Many companies use digital technologies, but utilizing digital tech does not equate to being structured with digital in mind. In fact, very few companies today could be considered truly designed for digital. This book takes a look into how leaders using organizational structures are inhibiting agility and takes a look at examples of global companies like Amazon to showcase how digital design – not strategy – is what makes a winning company. Ross’ book is perfect for any leader hoping to incorporate digital transformation into their overall objectives by outlining how companies can organize themselves to embrace transformation beyond their strategy.

The Power of Experiments: Decision Making in a Data-Driven World by Max H. Bazerman and Michael Luca

If you have done something as simple as a Google search, you probably took part in a randomized controlled trial. No tech company should ever make changes to its platform without such experiments! Bazerman and Luca outline the importance of such experiments for success in our data-driven world in The Power of Experiments and why they are so essential for business. The book goes over different applications of such experiments, some of the most notable examples from successful companies, and the impressive results that have been achieved with the help of experiments. If you’re looking for a new tool in your leadership, The Power of Experiments will give you a great opportunity to understand how and why experimentation may be what you’re looking for.

Six-Word Lessons to Think Like a Modern-Day CIO: 100 Lessons CIOs and Tech Leaders Must Embrace to Drive Business Velocity by Jim DuBois

Author Jim DuBois is a former Microsoft CIO and has over 30 years of experience in the realm of IT and software development. His book Six-Word Lessons to Think Like a Modern-Day CIO, DuBois addresses the common pitfalls of many companies regarding their IT strategy through stories revolving around his experience throughout the years. His lessons are short, sweet, and to the point, and will help any digital, tech or business leader improve their strategy by modernizing and evolving their IT team to be productivity and innovation drivers. This book will help your company accelerate your IT operations to keep up with the fast pace of modern business.

Strategy beyond the Hockey Stick: People, Probabilities, and Big Moves to Beat the Odds by Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt, and Sven Smit

McKinsey & Company’s newest book has proven to be a must-read for C-Suite executives and business leaders. Strategy beyond the Hockey Stick goes over an analysis of key factors that drove success within thousands of global companies and used the findings to create a method in which you can assess your own strategy and determine its likelihood of success. The authors uncover the fact that only 1 in 12 companies manage to jump from mid-tier, low-profit performance to top-tier profits is not simple chance. It depends on the decisions business leaders make based on their position and market trends to bring their business to the top. Many business executives have given glowing reviews of this book, so if you’re looking to strengthen your positioning through data-backed decisions, Strategy beyond the Hockey Stick should be your next read!

Build an A-Team: Play to Their Strengths and Lead Them Up the Learning Curve by Whitney Johnson

This book will teach any business leader how to develop the best team possible by engaging with them, identifying their skills, and creating a learning curve for them. Johnson has over 20 years of experience in consulting, investing, and coaching, and over time she has found that the key to a productive team is constant learning. The best bosses and leaders know that they should design an employee’s job around both the skills they have now and the skills they’ll need in the future to stay valuable and develop their careers. Build an A-Team is a great next read for any executive or manager hoping to take their team from good to great and encourage the long-term growth and experience of their employees within the company. It will teach you how to identify your employees’ skills as well as the skills they need to learn, how to design their job positions around learning, and applying a process to bring each individual on your team up their learning curve.

Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal

The world demands our undivided attention now more than ever before. Yet simultaneously, we have more distractions to lead us astray, ruining our productivity in the process. The main distractors are usually technology-based, but author Nir Eyal argues in Indistractable that technology is also the solution to our attention deficits. After reading this book, you won’t ever let yourself distract your life (and hard work) away. Indistractable gives advice on how to design your schedule, organize your time, outline your goals, and become distraction-proof. If you value your time and feel like distractions may be getting in the way of your achievements, this book is meant for you!

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

Women in the tech industry are often overlooked and unexpected, but author and entrepreneur Tarah Wheeler proves in Women in Tech that they’re everywhere and are game changers. Whether they’re SaaS CEOs or professional hackers, Wheeler has gathered inspiring stories of women in tech to provide an informative book on the subject for other women to begin or enhance their own careers within the industry. Several interviews with leading women in tech such as cybersecurity expert Keren Elazari and Women 2.0 founder Angie Chang provide readers with a comprehensive overview of the obstacles women in tech face, the potential they have, and how they’re changing the world of tech as we know it.

Make 2020 Your Year

Have you read any of these books yet? Are there any new ones that sound interesting to you? With these 13 books in hand, you will have new ways to read up on important aspects of leadership. Whether it’s encouraging and shaping your team, expanding the skills of employees, or refining your poise, reading any of these books will be a sure-fire way to learn something new and apply the latest findings on leadership to enhance your strategies and skills. We hope you found a few new must-reads for 2020 to make this year your best year yet!

About the Author

Vera Mayuk is Head of PR and Content at Creatio. Creatio (formerly bpm’online) is a global software company providing a leading low-code platform for process management and CRM. The company has been highly recognized as a market leader by key industry analysts. Its intelligent products accelerate sales, marketing, service and operations for mid-size and large enterprises. More: www.creatio.com


Featured image: ©Anya-Berkut