As technology increases its role in the workplace, a new book is studying the ever-changing responsibility of the IT leaders charged with its oversight.
Based on interviews with many of the world's most influential chief technology officers, CTOs At Work (Apress, 2012), by authors Scott Donaldson, Stanley Siegel and Gary Donaldson, examines their day-to-day work, their management and allocation of projects, and their interactions with the rest of the business.
"What intrigued us was that this is an emerging role that is still being defined," Gary Donaldson said on why the trio sought to write the book. "We wanted to get a sense of how that role defined itself across the different industries."
The book comprises a series of interviews in which the CTOs describe how their companies take advantage of technologies, teamwork and software development practices to respond to organizational needs and improve employee productivity.
The interviews cover a vast array of industries, including science and applied technology, commercial software products, energy research and development, defense research and development, intelligence community consulting, commercial energy products and public broadcasting.
The book offers a number of lessons for current CTOs and businesses looking to implement the role in their own organization, Siegel said, including ways in which to fully integrate technology into the workplace.
"They all learned how to motivate other people to get the technology working in their corporate environment," Siegel said of a common theme throughout the book.
The interviews also explore the CTOs' personal lives and the journeys that led them to their positions.
"The way we conducted these interviews was in a very informal way to bring out who they are," Siegel said.
From dropping out of college to starting out as a forester, Donaldson said many had surprising backgrounds.
"Some folks had a career path I never would have guessed," he said. "It was almost as if they were destined to be successful."
In addition to CTOs and their colleagues, Siegel believes the book is a good read for those interested in learning more about career development, leadership and best business practices.
Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who worked in public relations and spent 10 years working as a newspaper reporter before becoming a freelance business and technology reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.