As the U.S. enjoys the long Memorial Day weekend, it’s a good time to grab a pot of coffee, settle into your favorite chair, and let’s all get smarter. Once again, TechGenix IT Book Corner takes a look at three books that should be on your professional reading list. This edition features some good reads that cover artificial intelligence, cybersecurity for CISOs, and what IT pros can expect in the next decade.
“Cunning Machines: Your Pocket Guide to the World of Artificial Intelligence” from CRC Press covers a subject that impacts not only those of us who work in the IT profession but also those who work in business, finance, wholesale and retail industries, government, and also those of us who do a lot of shopping online — which pretty much means everybody. The author of this title accomplishes something that many so-called AI experts try to do but usually fail: namely to make the basic concepts of artificial intelligence simple enough that anyone can understand them. Discussion of AI today is hindered by the steady stream of hype coming from the news media about AI is going to take over the world and destroy humanity.
Just this morning for instance I came across a news item on The Byte titled “Nobel Winner: Artificial Intelligence Will Crush Humans — It’s Not Even Close.” Yikes! Fortunately, the reality of AI is much less dramatic but also more exciting. And to understand what AI is and what artificial neural networks are and how they work, and their exciting applications from working together with other “intelligent” technologies, this Pocket Guide should be the first place you should look. There’s even a section of a chapter that’s devoted to that most brain-draining time-passing activity — which I still can’t get my head around properly — namely, Sudoku. Not that the book explains how to use AI to become a Sudoku Wizard, but intelligently using something most people know (Sudoko) to elaborate on the workings of something most people find utterly mysterious (AI).
I highly recommend this book. At a short 160 pages, I enjoyed reading it and learned a lot. The future with AI may look like a black box, but when was it not one?
“CISO COMPASS: Navigating Cybersecurity Leadership Challenges with Insights from Pioneers” from CRC Press starts by proposing a scenario: you’ve just been selected for the role of chief information security officer (CISO) for an organization that has never had a CISO before. The question is this: What should be your first order of business? To develop a comprehensive roadmap for building a culture and program of cybersecurity for your organization, correct? But how can one do this? That’s where the rubber really hits the road for this excellent book as it leads you step-by-step through the process of envisioning, planning, developing, and implementing cybersecurity strategies, programs, and teams of personnel in a logical and effective manner.
The book also delves deeply into the subject of security incidents, summarizing a broad range of different real-world examples of such incidents and exploring the various frameworks around for detecting, mitigating, and remediating breaches and intrusions. Key risk management concepts and practices are also given much attention, as is the topic of the legal aspects surrounding cybersecurity and data privacy. The book ends with a discussion of important soft skills that every CISO needs to cultivate to be effective within their sphere of influence with their organization, including how they should interface with the organization’s board of directors to ensure continuous improvement organization’s security posture.
Best read by senior IT management types and those aspiring to such positions, this book will teach you a lot about this important role at the head of enterprise security.
“Truth from the Valley: A Practical Primer on IT Management for the Next Decade” from CRC Press is a great book for IT pros to read, but it might be just a tad too optimistic. After all, with the accelerating pace at which our technological world is developing today, a decade might be too unrealistic a timeline for us to see into our future. Let’s just say that this book can help guide you in your profession as an IT manager for the next half dozen years. And guidance is exactly what the book offers. Presentation is covered in three parts: people, process, and technology. Part 1 on people deals with how to attract and recruit IT talent for your enterprise, how to develop that talent in those you hire, and how to foster an environment where teamwork can flourish.
The author also describes how to deal with the problem of talent debt, a structural problem resulting from a pervasive lack of skills, knowledge, aptitudes, or experiences that may be crucial to the future success of your organization. As the author points out, “The plain truth is that IT organizations outgrow the talents of selected staff members in the same way they outgrow the capabilities of their legacy systems and infrastructure.” That illuminating statement is worth the price of the book alone as it brings a whole new perspective shining on the difficulties many IT managers face as they work to keep the system running at their organization.
The second portion of the book covers process matters such as implementing service management, developing and maintaining applications, managing organizational data, building and maintaining a healthy security culture, and so on. The final part of the book deals with more technological issues facing today’s organizations, including the growing trend towards the virtual workspace, using leverage in the vendor ecosystem, maintaining sound cost control, dealing with the proliferation of applications, and similar issues. The writing is definitely “managerial,” so it may not be that easy a read for those who work more in the technical end of the IT profession. But the book is under 200 pages and can be read through in a weekend while you’re sitting outside your cottage at the lake.
Another definite recommend for those interested or involved in this area of our profession.
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