Originally posted on https://visichain.io/digital-transformation-best-books/
Digital transformation is the ongoing process of supplanting traditional analog systems in an organization with more efficient technological solutions.
While some people once dismissed digital transformation as a meaningless buzzword, over the last two decades we’ve seen the incredible results that can be achieved when businesses put old thinking to the side and embrace the possibilities that modern solutions offer.
Government departments, NGOs, and businesses of all sizes are finding that digital transformation can provide improved efficiency, reduced costs, and create a happier workforce.
With modern businesses becoming more complex than ever, and so much of our work lives being carried out online, it’s imperative that companies move away from traditional pen-and-paper systems in favor of digital methods – the digital imperative is real.
The biggest selling point of digital transformation is that it doesn’t just offer one singular benefit, but a wide range of improvements that can assist in many different processes.
Like it or not, digital transformation is the future of business and any organization which chooses not to embrace it will be quickly surpassed by their competition. As the old adage goes, “if you’re not moving forward, you’re going backward”.
There are few business departments better-suited to adopting digital technologies than the supply chain.
Studies have indicated that, on average, the supply chain is the least digitized area of focus from five major business areas, with the average supply chain having a digitization level of less than 50%.
Furthermore, it was found that no single area of business benefits from digital technology more than a supply chain, with aggressive digitization potentially boosting annual revenue growth by 2.3 percent.
Suman Sarkar is an experienced international consultant with bags of experience in the world of supply chain innovation. In this book, he focuses on the overarching themes of what digital transformation is and how it can benefit supply chains.
The Supply Chain Revolution is packed full of examples of companies which have successfully integrated technological process into their workflow, contrasted with their competitors who failed to do so.
Some people may find Sarkar’s work a bit on the light side when it comes to details, so it’s probably one to miss if you have a good understanding of the basics of digital transformation.
If you’re new to this world, however, then The Supply Chain Revolution will quickly get you up to speed.
Lindsay Herber is a digital transformation leader at IBM, a company that’s recognized as a world leader in both digital transformation and supply chain technology.
Her book does an excellent job of breaking down digital transformation strategies into easy to digest chunks while avoiding the usual jargon bloat commonly found in books of this genre.
Herber leans on her wealth of experience to discuss many practical examples of how businesses can substantially improve their processes through digitalization.
You won’t find any fluff in Herber’s writing, just practical, actionable advice and great warnings about the pitfalls businesses commonly encounter during the digitalization process.
David Rogers believes that digital transformation is less about technology, and more about changing the way business leaders approach their strategic thinking.
While many other books in this genre focus on explaining how current technology can be used to improve performance, Rogers explains how companies can change their thinking to adopt any new technology.
The Digital Transformation Playbook is a lesson in grand strategy, and while it won’t give you many tips that you will be able to implement tomorrow, it may just change the way you do business for years to come.
Kevin Kelly is perhaps best-known as the co-founder of Wired magazine, the world’s only major publication focused on scrutinizing the effect that technology has on society and business. His latest book, The Inevitable, speculates on the effect technology will have on the world over the next three decades.
The Inevitable shouldn’t be dismissed as pie-in-the-sky futurism. Kelly has an uncanny knack of breaking down trends in available technology and following them to their logical conclusion.
You won’t find many actionable processes to apply in the short-term in this book, but you’ll develop a clearer picture of how technology is likely to affect your business in the medium to long term.
Driving Digital offers a comprehensive overview of digital transformation with a focus on transferring staff away from legacy practices in favor of AI implementation and data-driven models.
The author, Isaac Sacolick, has a wealth of experience in IT strategizing which he has accumulated as a leading CIO, and it shines through in every section of this book.
Sacolick stresses that digital transformations can’t just be a superficial shift towards the hottest new technology, but a complete top-down overhaul of every operating process, from front-end services to supply chains, and even marketing.
The key thing that sets The Digital Matrix apart from other books on this list is Venkat Venkatraman focus on the way that technology can be used in tandem with people in order to create superior processes.
While other authors see digital transformation as a way to supplant existing workers where possible, Venkatraman is keen to demonstrate that technology is best used in conjunction with experienced staff members.
Crucially, Venkatraman also discusses the benefits of having a knowledgeable team in place to deliver a digital transformation, and he provides many helpful tips on how to assemble such a team.
Digital to the Core is a top-down focused book, aimed at C-level staff.
The authors, Raskino and Waller, took a careful and analytical approach to their writing, interviewing over 30 executives from major international companies such as McDonald’s, Ford, and GE. This background research really shows, and you’ll find a wide range of different approaches to digitalization in this book.
Raskino and Waller split this book into three areas of focus.
Industry looks at the common external trends which can affect a business, Enterprise focuses on key changes that can be made internally, and Self deals with the changes that can be made on a managerial level.
The main defining feature of this book is that it aims to be an actionable guide which describes 77 steps for digital practitioners to instigate.
Each section of the book is broad and comprehensive enough to be applicable to just about any business model, yet there is enough detail in each step that the information remains invaluable.
The blocks are split up into 12 chapters covering a wide range of topics from front-end customer experience to data management and commerce.
This work is best suited to those who are already familiar with the overall scope of a modern business, such as consultants and C-level employees.
Mark Johnson first discussed the importance of digital transformation in 2010 with his book Seizing the White Space. This updated version brings together all of the valuable information from the first printing, combined with new techniques and case studies learned from the last decade.
Johnson proposes a simple, customer-focused philosophy which can be applied to businesses of all sizes.
Reinvent Your Business Model places significant emphasis on digital transformation in the field of start-ups, with many case studies featured to down the way that companies like Uber have managed to completely overhaul entire industries through the use of newer technological methods
What’s Your Digital Business Model is a somewhat basic introduction to building a digitally-prepared business.
Seasoned businesses leaders probably won’t glean much new information from its pages, but it would likely be an invaluable source of information for someone who is founding a company, or looking to move up into managerial roles.
The authors, Weill and Woerne are both research scientists at MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research, and they’ve used that experience to carefully craft step-by-step instructions, backed up by data and case studies.
This book would be an excellent choice for anyone who is looking for an introduction to digital transformation that also offers a few actionable tips along the way.
The Technology Fallacy draws on fours years of research and 16,000 interviews with managerial staff from major brands.
Gerald C. Kane and Anh Nguyen Phillips do a fantastic job of condensing all of that data into helpful nuggets of wisdom. We learn how the best executives in the business avoid digital disruptions while harnessing the full potential of technology.
The information captured from this research, taken from the MIT Sloan Management Review, is crafted into a series of pragmatic and innovative steps that any business can use to reach its full digital potential.
In this book, Scott Anthony, Clark Gilbert, and Mark Johnson propose an innovative duel-pronged method to fight digital disruption.
The authors argue that digital transformation should be seen as a way to not only increase profits and remain competitive but also to strengthen a company as a whole.
Anthony, Gilbert, and Johnson split the task of digital transformation into two separate assignments.
The first transformation involves re-orientating business models so that they remain viable long into the future.
The second transformation is about finding new avenues that businesses can explore to generate growth once current processes are utilized to their fullest potential.
Anyone who is interested in applying AI to their business or worried about the effects it may have on their industry in the future should pick up a copy of Applied Artificial Intelligence.
Mariya Yao, Adelyn Zhou, and Marlene Jia cut through the hype and hysterics around AI to deliver a well-considered pronouncement of exactly what AI can do, and what it’s likely to do in the future.
This book covers all of the common questions business leaders might have about AI and offers practical tips to implement it into a business environment without disruptions.
In Mapping Innovation, Greg Satell tries to break down business innovation into a more scientific formula, plotted onto what Satell calls an Innovation Matrix.
Throughout the book, Satell discusses case studies from major brands, tracking their choices into his matrix in order to show which kinds of innovation tend to succeed and which ones fail.
The steps of the Innovation Matrix are actionable and can be repeated by readers who will likely see similar results.
This is a great choice for anyone who likes to back up their innovation decisions with real-world data and analytics.
This book immediately stands out from others in the genre due to its use of fun and helpful diagrams and illustrations.
The author, Tendayi Viki, is a business strategy consultant who specializes in small-scale approaches to large businesses.
Viki does an excellent job of describing innovation decisions in terms of frameworks that can be built upon to create new business models from scratch.
Expanding upon the tried and tested idea of Lean Startup Frameworks, Viki adapts proven development cycles to fit general innovation in a corporate environment.
The purpose of these frameworks is to allow a business to test several possible innovation methods with the lowest cost and turn-around time possible.
Predictions Machines looks at the world of AI from a rather unusual perspective. Whereas most books focus on integrating AI directly into existing processes, the authors of this book argue that the best potential use of AI is for economic forecasting inside a corporate environment.
Ajay Agrawal, Gans, and Goldfarb discuss how machine learning is already been used to forecast everything from customer behavior to stock levels and annual profits.
They go on to offer practical advice on how similar systems can be integrated into an existing business, and how the technology might change the face of industry in the future.
The authors of this book, David Kidder and Christina Wallace describe their method as a permanent ladder to the moon, rather than a one-off innovation moonshot.
The main theme of New to Big is the importance of establishing repeatable, consistent growth in innovation rather than chasing the hottest new trends in technology.
The authors argue that large companies tend to be reluctant to change, while nimble start-up companies are more willing to take risks despite having much more limited resources.
This book offers a unique insight into how large corporations can learn to become more flexible and warns about the dire consequences that face companies which fail to adapt.
This book is a memoir by professor Terrence Sejnowski, detailing his four decades of experience developing biologically-inspired neural nets. As such, it serves as a history lesson into the origins of modern machine learning.
Those who are looking for actionable pointers in digital transformation should look towards another book, but The Deep Learning Revolution makes for excellent reading for anyone who wants to understand where modern AI started and how quickly it developed from humble beginnings to self-driving cars.
Sejnowski’s work is quite involved, so it’s best read by people with at least a working understanding of how machine learning operates.
In Smart Business, Ming Zeng looks at the way businesses can transform the model of an entire industry through the lens of a single company, Alibaba.
This long-form case study highlights Alibaba’s use of what Zeng calls the Customer-to-Business model, where a company enables coordination between customers and suppliers in order to deliver products that are cost-effective and deeply customizable.
The Customer-to-Business practices use by Alibaba are deconstructed and compared to other companies with a similar business model such as Dell.
Zeng manages to focus Alibaba’s eclectic mix of business strategies into one definable methodology, that can be deconstructed and applied to other markets.
Digital Vortex is an insightful look into what digital disruption is and how it can be not just avoided, but used to a company’s advantage.
Macaulay, Noronha, and Wade argue that large companies need to continually shift their business practices on an almost annual basis in order to stay ahead of curve balls from the competition.
Digital Vortex breaks down how to deal with disruptive competitors, by changing from a trend follower to a trendsetter.
This book is packed with valuable stats, charts, and information on the role of digital disruption in the business world and how other companies are responding to it.
Digital transformation doesn’t just apply to the usual tech-related industries, but all walks of life.
In Leading Digital, Westerman and Bonnet, and McAfee describe how silicon valley business practices can be applied to any part of the business landscape, in order to enhance digital operations and improve customer satisfaction. This no-nonsense look at digital transformation dispenses with the usual jargon in place of easy to understand descriptions and feasible action plans.
The authors of this book make the case that it’s imperative for business leaders from all industries to make the switch to digital processes, or risk being left behind.
Professor Klaus Schwab is best known as the founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
In this work, he argues that the fourth industrial revolution is fundamentally different to any of the previous three due to the involvement of AI, and the way that computers have now infected every part of our lives.
Schwab discusses the impact he believes digital transformation will have on not just the world of business and government, but the very fabric of society itself.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution warns against technological misuse while speculating on the profound positive effect it may have on society and industry.
The second book on this list from Peter Weill, this time joined by Jeanne W. Ross and David C. Robertson.
Enterprise Architecture As Strategy stands out because it discusses not only how to implement a digital strategy, but what to do when you find that your current strategy isn’t working.
The authors discuss several practical frameworks to help managers decide which strategies must succeed and how to make sure those strategies stay on the right track.
There is a lot of empirical data to be found here in the form of case studies as well as the anecdotal experiences of the authors.
One of the most data-driven books on this list, No Ordinary Disruption is a fascinating insight into how digital technology can disrupt, and ultimately completely alter market trends.
Based on research data from the McKinsey Global Institute, authors Dobbs, Manyika, and Woetzel highlight exactly how a trend is formed in a market place, how to anticipate changes in a trend, and how a business can break away from established trends to get ahead of the curve.
Business leaders with their ear to the ground are unlikely to find much new information in this book, but anyone who is looking for an overview of the most likely trends to affect the global economy in the near future should look no further.
The Digital Helix offers a root and stem overhaul method of digital transformation.
The authors, Aarons and Gale believe that digital innovation should be an integral part of a company’s makeup, rather than a quick-fire way to boost profits. As such, companies can only thrive in the modern space when they become as interconnected as possible.
The authors argue that digital technology has made the separation of departments somewhat redundant. An IT issue is an issue for every department, as each branch of business now relies on digital technology to function. As such, a company should be structured so that information can freely flow horizontally and vertically through the business.
The Digital Helix offers several practical frameworks for achieving such a paradigm, along with case studies and examples of implementation methods.
A comprehensive guide which is applicable to employees in various levels of management, this book provides the reader with a thorough understanding of their role in the digital transformation process and why it’s important.
The key theme of this book is about changing the attitude and culture of a business to one that is innovative, agile and welcoming of change.
Lots of books talk about agility as an abstract concept, but Abraham and Perkin deconstruct agility into an actionable and repeatable methodology.
This book is a great choice for anybody who wants practical steps that can be immediately instigated into a business environment.
The second book on this list to feature Mark W. Johnson, Business Model Innovation is a collection of articles featured in the Harvard Business Review, written by some of the top business strategists in the world.
The book covers a wide range of topics and intends to arm business leaders with a comprehensive list of skills that will allow them to create new growth, fend off competition, and replace failing business models with new strategies.
Each article covers a different yet equally interesting topic from accessing new markets in developing economies to duel business model strategy guides.
Platform Revolution is an in-depth look into the world of platform businesses – companies which enable consumers to access goods and services.
Parker, Van Alstyne, and Choudary delve into the meat of what makes a successful platform business work in the digital age and how that success can be replicated through repeatable steps.
Using case studies from major platform businesses such as Uber and PayPal, the authors uncover why those businesses proved to be so successful in the first place, and what we can learn about their working methods in order to uncover new opportunities for platform businesses.
This is another book that advocates for a top-to-bottom digital transformation in order for a business to keep ahead of technological trends.
This book doesn’t cover much about why digital transformation is necessary, so it’s perhaps not for the beginner. Instead, this book aims to be an actionable manual describing exactly how executives and mid-level managers should instigate total digital overhauls in their business.
Some of the concepts found in Digital @ Scale may seem a little bit abstract to those who aren’t au fait with upper-management practices, but those at the higher end of the management spectrum will find that much of the book rings true to their experiences.
Clayton M. Christensen is a Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. His wealth of experience shines through in this classic book which is still highly relevant to today’s business world.
While some of the references may seem a bit dated, the core foundation of business innovation still resonates perfectly today as it did when this book was first published.
As such, the book is best used as a general guide to why businesses fail and how they can best adapt. You won’t find any tips to implement specific technologies in this book, but you will find time-tested guides that were used to build some of the most innovative companies on the planet.
Steve Jobs famously read this book and used some of its teachings about market disruption to create the iPod and iPhone. What better endorsement could a book have than that?
The Phoenix Project stands out from the other books in this list because it’s written in the form of a novel.
Bill, an IT manager at Parts Unlimited, is given just 90 days to salvage his company’s latest IT project which is horrendously over-budget and behind schedule. Along the way, he discovers tricks to raise efficiency, deal with uncooperative coworkers and defeat unforeseen problems.
While the story of The Phoenix Project may be fictional, much of the narrative with resonate deeply with anyone who has been put in charge of a large-scale IT initiative.
The characters are quirky and fun, and overall it’s a unique and imaginative way to deliver valuable strategies to the reader.
The Internet of Things (IOT) has had a profound effect on the way many modern businesses operate. In this book, Eric Schaeffer looks at the way IOT has altered practices in the manufacturing sector.
Through well-researched case studies and real-world examples, Industry X.0 gives the reader an insight into how the factory of tomorrow might operate, and what manufacturers are doing today to stay competitive.
Schaeffer makes the case that manufacturers need to shift their staffing focus away from products and towards services at a time when many manufacturing roles are becoming redundant due to automation.
This book is the quintessential prepper’s guide for purchasing and supply chain managers.
Dr. Tom DePaoli stresses that no single set of rules can be followed to avoid a supply chain disaster. Instead, he offers a wide range of advice and encourages the reader to use their best judgment when selecting applicable models to follow for their business.
Each section of this book is snappy and to the point, giving just enough information to drive the point home without bogging the reader down with useless details that won’t apply to their specific case.
If you’re looking for a detailed framework to follow for your particular industry, this is probably not the book for you. But if you are searching for a general guide to supply chain security, Dr. Tom’s work forms a helpful starting point.
At a time when so much of the business world is digitized, recorded and cataloged, it can sometimes be difficult for professionals to separate the critical must-know data from the minutia.
In this guide, Lora M. Cecere uses her vast knowledge of supply chains to help the reader to build the necessary skills to be able to identify the most important metrics for any company. She then goes on to demonstrate how those metrics can be used to improve efficiency and quality.
Finally, Cecere breaks down the relationship between supply chain metrics and finance in order to drive profit growth through the proper application of data-based initiatives.
The design of supply chain networks is a chronically overlooked but vitally important part of the supply chain department. In short, it’s all about maximizing the tools and resources at your disposal in order to create a supply chain with the highest efficiency to cost ratio possible.
Using real-world examples and well-considered hypotheticals, this book guides the reader through the best thinking process for creating or expanding a supply network.
The authors guide you through every important step of network design, teaching you how to choose the correct size warehouse for your business, how to find the right location and even how many lines your facility should have. Each step is tailorable to the specifics of your business without being too general to be useful.
Dr. J. Paul Dittmann is the Executive Director of the Global Supply Chain Institute and an expert in demand management, supply chain operations, and logistical planning.
In his book, Supply Chain Transformation, Dr. Dittmann sets out a nine-step strategic framework to aid you in improving your supply chain via careful SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats).
The book discusses likely global mega-trends and changes in the supply chain industry and gives the reader a road map of how best to deal with future disruptions caused by external competition and internal forces.
Big data analysis is changing the way that corporations are doing business, and nowhere is it more applicable than to the supply chain.
In this book, Professor Nada R. Sanders explains how companies such as Amazon and Apple are using massive data sets to drive their entire supply chain operation, such as predictive inventory fulfillment based on historical customer trends.
She goes on to thoroughly explain how companies of any size can best utilize the data they are generating every day to instigate innovations.
There isn’t much in this book for professionals already utilizing big data in their workflow, but people who are new to big data and it’s possible applications will glean a lot from reading this work.
Unlike most of the works on this list, The Network Imperative is specifically aimed at professionals who are only just embarking on their journey towards a network-based business model.
The authors set out the basic tenants of why digital platforms are important in order to remain competitive and how they can be implemented in a way that drives growth with minimal disruptions. The book is divided into ten key principles based on research and data from thousands of successful companies.
This book is invaluable for anybody who is on the fence about the need to digitally transform their business as well as people who are unsure where to start with digital innovation.
In this book, Tony Saldanha warns against the unforeseen problems that can cause an otherwise sound digital transformation plan to go horribly wrong.
Applying the knowledge and experience he gained from three decades working as an IT Vice President of Procter & Gamble, Saldanha has created a five-stage road map that can be followed to ensure that your business avoids the disastrous pitfalls often encountered by unprepared business leaders embarking on new IT initiatives.
This book is best suited to higher-level IT professionals, but business managers of all kinds will benefit from the insightful information contained within its pages.
The Anticipatory Organization is an exercise in solving problems that have yet to occur. By carefully analyzing trends and case studies, Daniel Burrus shows how future problems in digital transformation can be mitigated or avoided entirely.
The proven methods and processes contained in this book are designed to give organizations of any size the tools they’ll need to anticipate future market trends, analyze potential weaknesses in an existing business model, and move to more robust systems in the future.
Burrus expertly breaks down existing businesses and shows exactly how their thought process allows them to disrupt entire markets in just a few years.
The Chartered Management Institute named Building Digital Culture as one of their management books of the year for 2018, and it’s easy to see why.
Daniel Rowles and Thomas Brown make the case for adopting a digital culture that allows innovative new technologies to saturate every part of the business.
This book doesn’t discuss the ins and outs of how a digital transformation should be conducted. Instead, the authors establish systems that will let the best digital solutions naturally come to the forefront of the business model through data-analysis and careful testing.
This book is an excellent read for anyone who is unsold on the idea that a digital transformation could alter the very fabric of their company.
In Technology Strategy Patterns, author Eben Hewitt has created 39 patterns which are intended to be distributed throughout the entire corporate structure so that every higher-level employee is on the same page.
In short, Hewitt is trying to create a shared language which can be used to rapidly disseminate new ideas and information throughout a company.
He argues that companies should operate on these patterns in such a way that staff will easily be able to understand how new processes fit in with existing methods, and what their roles will be during the implementation phase.
In this book, neuroscientist Thomas Zoega Ramsoy argues that one of the biggest stumbling blocks encountered by companies undergoing any kind of transformation is the human element.
While it’s obvious that companies must change in order to stay competitive in a shifting environment, Ramsoy asserts that a fear of failure, bad habits, and office politics dooms most new initiatives to failure.
In his three-step program, Ramsoy sets out a road map that will allow managers to break down human barriers using novel but unintuitive methods such as rap music and neuroprototypes.
Orchestrating Transformation is another book aimed at avoiding badly-instigated transformations which can be expensive, lower morale, and put the business behind the competition.
The authors argue that most digital transformations fail to live up to expectations not because the technology is bad, but because the organization doesn’t have a clear picture of how the technology will work across departments.
The connected approach to transformations described in the book involves orchestrating the whole business to seamlessly integrate new technologies into the company’s pipeline, rather than allowing each individual department to innovate separately.
MIT’s Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson are the authors of The 2nd Machine Age, a book with was critically acclaimed upon its release.
In their latest work, the authors give a comprehensive breakdown of the way disruptive technologies are shaping a new wave of businesses, allowing industry giants to be outfoxed by relative newcomers.
While this book won’t contain any surprises for those who are already well versed in disruptive technologies, it serves as a robust guide for people who are new to this field of innovation.
Thomas Siebel is the founder and CEO of C3, a company at the forefront of AI software applications and innovation.
In this book, he gives an overview of the four main technologies that he believes are driving digital transformations, namely cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things (IOT).
This book is possibly one of the best general overviews of the state of modern technology and how it can be used to drive innovation in business and government applications.
If you are just delving into the world of modern business technology, this book would serve as an excellent introduction to the subject.
The books in this list represent some of the most profound, detailed, and up-to-date thinking on the subject of digital transformation, from some of the keenest minds in the world of business.
The academics, consultants, and leaders of industry who wrote these books represent the forefront of applied technological knowledge. The data and case studies contained in the pages of their work constitutes billions of dollars worth of triumphs and failures from some of the most famous and successful brands in the world.
There’s almost certainly something to be gained from each book on this list, no matter which one you chose.
Whether you’re a C-level manager about to embark on the road to digital transformation, an enthusiast who wants to find out how modern businesses operate behind the curtain, or an IT manager looking for a great novel that will teach you a thing or two along the way, there’s guaranteed to be a book on this list to suit your needs.
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