IMBOK - The book - reviews

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From Earnest Hughes
I wish I could have read this book when I was younger ... This book is an essential read for technical specialists and business generalists who want to see the big picture and create more value together.

I started my career as a software developer. I wrote beautiful programs that my customer didn't use. Since I was an introvert and they were polite, it took us awhile to talk about that. When we did, I discovered that I didn't understand their requirements, and they didn't understand their business processes. After we worked on that, they used my now more beautiful programs, but they didn't solve any real business problems. It turns out that we didn't know the company's business strategy, which was posted on a wall hidden behind a curtain in a locked conference room. Our chief operating officer(COO) was surprised that we wanted to see it.

This book cuts through all that. Like Wirth's classic guide for programmers [1], the Information Management Body of Knowledge (IMBOK) [2] clearly and concisely synthesizes and connects best practices for organizations to improve their value creation through information management processes.

The foundation for these best practices is the IMBOK framework. It consists of six knowledge areas or management domains and four information management processes that intersect and align the domains. The six knowledge areas are: information technology, information system, business process, business information, business benefit, and business strategy. The four information management processes are: projects, business change, business operations, and performance management.

An information technology project produces an information system. An information system supports a business process and captures business information. The operation of a business process provides business benefit. A business benefit reflects the performance of a business strategy.

The 11 chapters in the text explore each of the six knowledge areas extensively, and review other popular models and frameworks. Four short case studies demonstrate application of the information management processes.

[1] Wirth, N. Algorithms + data structures = programs. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1976.
[2] Information Management Body of Knowledge, (01/29/2015).

From Jane Small
A book on how IT and Business can work together with a greater understanding and appropriate tools - very valuable insights.

There are no half measures with IT, it either works for your company, or it holds it back. Easy to say, but the key lies in identifying problem areas and dealing with them with appropriate approaches. And this is where Andy Bytheway comes in. He may be a longstanding academic, but his reflections on the dilemmas faced by every senior manager or director at some stage of their business careers are based firmly upon practical experiences. He marries both the theoretical and the practical to the benefit of academics and business people alike - a tough trick to pull off, but he does so in relaxed easy-to-read style.

The main thrust of the book is how best to get information and communication technology to link to business strategy, and how business strategy drives investment in information technology. A simple concept, but involving a complex set of processes, approaches and communications, and one from which Bytheway doesn't shy away.

He examines the question from both standpoints - business and technology. The reality is that both sides frequently need to review and refresh their approach to a working framework which can facilitate conversations between these areas, at all levels. In an echo of the old saw that Americans and British are two nations separated by the same language, he makes a point of clarifying ambiguous terms which all too frequently serve only to confuse.

IMBOK is presented as a prime solution to the process trying to support the interface between IT and the business. The key may be however, to reassess some well known models, stripping down to bare bones the thought processes and procedures involved. And it's here that his non-academic style pays dividends alongside diagrammatic illustrations which could usefully be employed in many a strategy session and project kick off meeting.

Bytheway toys with such questions as "exactly what is it that is shared by, or sits between, the world of technology and the real world of business?". He challenges many of current business approaches i.e. the formal project management methodology, suggesting that successful projects (as generally understood) are only part of what is needed to get IT solutions to deliver what businesses need.

Don't be misled by the deliberately low key style of this book, there is a huge amount to be learnt, and more importantly, usefully employed in all manner of real life business applications. Even if it is just a reminder of which processes could be applied to improve your current planning, or how communication could be changed, or how we, as Directors, could be clearer about the strategic aims.

The verdict? Well worth reading for his perspective on business issues, but perhaps more importantly, his ability to prompt a reappraisal of some old dilemmas. A book which will never be far from the front of my bookshelf.

From Dr Zoran Mitrovic
There was a need for an understandable, easy to read book that will provide powerful tools for managing organisational informational resources.

Today's rapidly changing world, dominated by pervasive information and communication technologies, increasingly depends on the right information but we are often snowed under an "information overload", which causes great confusion in organisations and societies. Managing information in such a world is never easy, often turning decisions-making into a daunting task. Reading relevant books and learning about numerous ways of "effective" information management is not easy task in nowadays fast paced business environment.

This practical book titled "Investing in Information: The Information Management Body of Knowledge" indeed brings an understandable and easy to read broad-based view on the importance of information and information management. It also outlines specific instructions of how to manage the five areas of organisational informational concerns: information technologies and systems, business processes, benefits and strategies. All of this is illustrated by "real life" exemplary stories and useful figures. Clearly, this book will be most useful for those responsible for organisational information systems but will also be a valuable resource for non-technology savvy organisational middle and top management wishing to understand the benefits from investing in information technologies. The strength of this book also comes from the fact that it can be a useful resource regardless of the technologies employed in an organisation: its principles and concepts are equally applicable to the "old" client-server technologies and the newest, cloud computing based mobile technologies.

It is interesting to note that the origins of this book date back to the beginning of this century and are rooted in the author's considerable experience. The IMBOK version published in 2004 prompted me to explore the practical and lecturing usability of the concepts present in this book. This resulted in basing my postgraduate Information Systems Benefits course on the IMBOK principles, which was highly valued by generations of my students. Many of them now use the IMBOK principles in their managing and consulting practice. It, hence, can be a very good resource for the information technology and information systems students. I also successfully use the IMBOK framework in my consulting practice.

Finally, my suggestion for improving the next edition of this book: I believe that the first knowledge area of IMBOK "Information Technology" should be dedicated not only to information technologies (IT) but to information and comunication technologies (ICT). I firmly believe that the "communication" component is equally important for organisational decision-making.

From: Mark Smalley
Andy Bytheway writes with the skill of a tree surgeon, paring down unnecessary, unsightly and downright confusing growth, and leaving the essentials of each relevant domain, from information technology to business strategy.

In a world of ever-increasing standardization and specialization, many of us feel trapped in our silos and unable to see the information forest for the technology trees. IMBOK provides the reader with a surprisingly easy to read but extremely well-grounded overview of the role of information and related technology in a business context. It will prove useful to a wide range of readers in education, IT and the business itself, giving them a better grip on the complexities of information management in the broadest sense of the term.

From: Professor Raymond A Hackney
The book is unique as it presents a clear and present analysis of how business value may be achieved.

An initial observation is the obvious maturity and confidence expressed in the book which is comprehensive and authoritative in content and approach. The bottom-line for investing in Information Technology has always been a critical issue for managers given previous reports of its potential lack of productivity to business enhancement and/or service delivery. There are indeed a myriad of ‘new' perspectives emerging around topics associated with, for example, knowledge management, social media, business analytics, etc. The book presents a realistic opportunity of how to progress this area through a grounding in information and systems which form the foundation of electronic processes for business benefit. It will be of significant value to academics, a range of student populations at all levels and will also offer a useful intellectual tool for consultants and practitioners. The book is highly reflective, insightful and is recommended as a serious and important contribution to the complexities of investing in information.

From: Professor Grafton Whyte
I would recommend this book to ICT practitioners ...

... who are lost in the functional decomposition that is taking place in the ICT industry at the moment, and who want to get an understanding of the "big picture" and how they fit into it. Also to managers in both business and technology roles, who need to have a working framework for linking business to technology opportunities and a framework that can facilitate conversation between technical and to non-technical managers at all levels; also to academics as a model rich with application and explanatory power that really deserves further investigation.