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10 must-read digital transformation books in 2021

If you're searching for a book on digital transformation that addresses your business needs, look no further. We've compiled a list of 10 of the most popular books out there.

Digital transformation has become a necessity for businesses in almost every industry. Whether it's updating existing technologies to optimize business processes or establishing a cultural change across departments, most organizations need to transform some aspect of their business to thrive in today's digital economy.

This is easier said than done, as enterprise leaders balance day-to-day demands with laying the groundwork for successful digital transformation.

The books on our list will help you navigate the challenging path to digital transformation. Written by an array of digital experts from consultants and professors to business executives and IT professionals, the books cover a wide range of topics, including how to develop a strategy, how to increase the role of IT, how to avoid digital transformation failures and how to become a "vigilant leader."

In no particular order, here's our list of 10 useful digital transformation books to consult in 2021.

1. Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction

Author: Tom Siebel

Siebel book cover

Description: This book provides the why instead of the how of digital transformation, helping readers better understand four major disruptive technologies -- cloud computing, big data, AI and IoT -- that got us where we are in today's digital age. Tom Siebel, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, interweaves the history of technology with real-world examples of global case studies on digital transformation initiatives for an educational and informative read.

Why you should read: Readers will walk away with a firm grasp of the relationship between today's disruptive technologies, their impact on government and business, and how organizations can harness them to survive and thrive.

2. Driving Digital: The Leader's Guide to Business Transformation Through Technology

Author: Isaac Sacolick

Sacolick book cover

Description: Driving Digital is a guide for business and IT leaders on digital transformation best practices. As organizations look to update existing technologies and business processes, Sacolick, a former CIO who has successfully led numerous transformations, offers insights and lessons learned. Tackling topics ranging from creating a successful digital strategy to establishing cultural change, the book serves as a roadmap to incorporating and sustaining digital practices.

Why you should read: With this one-stop manual, business leaders spearheading digital transformations initiatives will learn tips on how to formulate a digital strategy, align development and operations, implement a cultural change, capture and track digital transformation ROI, and pilot emerging technologies.

3. See Sooner, Act Faster: How Vigilant Leaders Thrive in an Era of Digital Turbulence (Management on the Cutting Edge)

Author: George Day and Paul Schoemaker

Day and Schoemaker book cover

Description: In an era of rapid technology change, an organization's survival depends on leadership that can anticipate threats and spot potential opportunities amid the turbulence. In See Sooner, Act Faster, strategy experts George Day and Paul Schoemaker draw on a variety of use cases, such as Adobe's and Intuit's move to the cloud and the digital challenges Mastercard faced early on, to show how leaders must adopt "vigilant leadership." The authors offer tools to help leaders survive digital disruption, as well as an action guide with tips for instilling vigilance and agility within their organizations.

Why you should read: Business leaders learn how vigilance and quick action responses can help their organizations not only survive major disruption, but also ultimately achieve higher profits, growth and organizational longevity.

4. The New IT: How Technology Leaders are Enabling Business Strategy in the Digital Age

Author: Jill Dyché

Dyche book cover

Description: In The New IT, blogger, speaker and software executive Jill Dyché addresses the importance of the relationship between a business and the IT department in a digital economy. With years of experience as a consultant for business executives and IT leaders at Fortune 500 companies, Dyché offers a blueprint for strengthening the role of IT in business, including how to assess IT's current role in the business and how to better align IT implementation with the corporate objectives. She also examines use cases from technology-driven companies, such as Toyota, Merck and Union Bank.

Why you should read: For business executives, IT managers and department heads who want to learn how to use IT as a strategic partner to the business, this book provides a framework and useful examples of digital transformation success.

5. Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation

Author: George Westerman, Didier Bonnet and Andrew McAfee

Westerman, Bonnet and McAfee book cover

Description: Leading Digital intentionally stays away from born-digital companies and tech startups and instead focuses on how traditional companies in industries like finance, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals are implementing digital technologies and practices to keep up with today's market. George Westerman and Andrew McAfee, colleagues at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, and Capgemini Consulting's Didier Bonnet identify the factors that go into a successful digital transformation, laying out a two-part framework on where to invest in digital capabilities and how to lead a transformation initiative. Insights are drawn from a study of more than 400 global firms, including Nike, Burberry, Pernod Ricard and Caesars Entertainment.

Why you should read: Business leaders will learn how to better engage with customers, enhance digital business operations, create a digital vision and govern digital activities in traditional companies.

6. Be the Business: CIOs in the New Era of IT

Author: Martha Heller

Heller book cover

Description: Be the Business is an audiobook narrated by longtime CIO consultant and headhunter Martha Heller, who dives into the importance of the role of IT and how it's changed over the years. Based on dozens of interviews with CIOs, she addresses how CIOs are changing their business operation models, assessing the IT provider marketplace, and their approach to developing talent and teams. Heller also identifies the top 10 skills CIOs need to succeed in today's digital landscape.

Why you should read: Whether a CIO, other technology leader or business executive, readers will gain a greater understanding of how CIOs have become key players in developing a business's overall strategy.

7. The Digital Transformation Playbook: Rethink Your Business for the Digital Age

Author: David L. Rogers

Rogers book cover

Description: In The Digital Transformation Playbook, digital expert David L. Rogers argues that digital transformation has less to do with technology and more to do with improving strategic thinking, specifically in companies born in the pre-digital era. Drawing on his business consulting and a decade worth of research and teaching at Columbia Business School, Rogers lays out how organizations can strengthen their digital strategy and seek new opportunities in five areas: customers, competition, data, innovation and value.

Why you should read: Equipped with the book's real-world use cases, hands-on frameworks and nine step-by-step planning tools, readers will learn many tips on how to improve their digital transformation efforts through the integration of customer platforms, big data, rapid experimentation and disruptive business models.

8. Driving Digital Strategy: A Guide to Reimagining Your Business

Author: Sunil Gupta

Gupta book cover

Description: In Driving Digital Strategy, author and Harvard Business School professor Sunil Gupta offers traditional organizations an extensive framework for reimagining and digitally transforming their business operations. Gupta examines case studies where traditional companies successfully harnessed digital technologies. The advice includes in-depth tips and best practices in every area of an organization, including business models, value chain, customer relationships and company culture.

Why you should read: Readers will gain a better understanding of how to strategically go about a digital transformation initiative within traditional organizations.

Looking for more digital transformation resources?

These articles provide timely advice on the makeup of digital transformation teams, how digital transformation budgets differ from traditional budgets, the importance of culture in digital transformation and more.

Building a digital transformation team: 8 essential roles

Top 10 digital transformation benefits for business

7 online digital transformation courses and certifications

The importance of culture on digital transformation

6 tips for digital transformation budget planning

9. Why Digital Transformations Fail: The Surprising Disciplines of How to Take Off and Stay Ahead

Author: Tony Saldanha

Saldanha book cover

Description: Why do 70% of digital transformations fail? According to Tony Saldanha, former vice president for IT and shared services at Procter & Gamble, it's not a result of the aimed-for innovation per se or the technology; instead, it's a lack of clear, defined goals and a disciplined process. Saldanha dives into how business leaders can go from simply automating business processes to making digital technology the foundation of an organization through a five-stage process. He also identifies the two disciplines that are vital to digital success and includes a checklist of questions to keep leaders on the right path forward.

Why you should read: Saldanha's extensive experience, supplemented by real-world case studies and how-to advice, gives readers an understanding of the importance of planning in a transformation initiative.

10. Digital to the Core: Remastering Leadership for Your Industry, Your Enterprise, and Yourself

Author: Mark Raskino and Graham Waller

Raskino and Waller book cover

Description: In Digital to the Core, authors Mark Raskino and Graham Waller, longtime Gartner analysts, explain why enterprise leaders need to lead their organizations at three levels -- industry, enterprise and self -- in order to fully comprehend the impact of digital change today. The book includes interviews with over 30 top C-suite executives in major organizations around the world, including GE, Ford, McDonald's and Babolat, and useful information from Gartner's annual CIO and CEO global survey research.

Why you should read: Firsthand accounts and advice from top business executives, along with Raskino and Waller's insights and research, give readers practical advice on how to reinvent their organizations to take advantage of the digital revolution.

Next Steps

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