I love the concept behind the Essential Knowledge series from MIT Press: condense information on a topic relevant to executives and senior managers into a book of about 128 small-format pages. Information and the Modern Corporation addresses the role of information technology in medium and large companies.
The author, James W. Cortada, is the author of numerous books and a long-time employee of IBM. Cortada has taken on many roles at IBM, but he currently works for IBM's Institute for Business Value. He mentions IBM-specific practices a few times, and I'm sure most if not all of his examples were informed by his experiences at IBM, but he presented every issue in general terms and his recommendations focus on broader issues of relevance to policymakers instead of implementers.
Cortada divides his material into chapters on topics such as supply chain management, customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing, the impact of information technology on organizational structure, and offers projections for the impact of technology development on corporations. Each of these chapters could be read in a half hour between meetings. In fact, readers could finish the book on a five-hour cross-country flight with plenty of time left over to check e-mail.
I thought Information and the Modern Corporation was a good book, but it didn't quite rise to the level of the other Essential Knowledge book I reviewed, Intellectual Property Strategy. Cortada did a terrific job of summarizing information technology and its implications for executives, so perhaps the difference in my perception comes down to prior knowledge. I'd been exposed to a lot of the information Cortada shared before I read this book, but had nowhere near the same knowledge of or experience with intellectual property law.
Even though some of the material in this book will probably be familiar to readers, I feel confident recommending Information and the Modern Corporation as a briefing book for any executive or senior manager who wants a compact and readable overview of the subject.
Curtis Frye is the editor of Technology and Society Book Reviews. He is the author of more than 20 books, most recently Improspectives. He has also written more than 20 books for Microsoft Press and O'Reilly Media, and has created more than a dozen online training courses for lynda.com. In addition to his writing, Curt is a keynote speaker and entertainer. You can find more information about him at www.curtisfrye.com.