For many IT professionals, the summer holidays are as much a chance to catch up on the latest tech read as well as a well-deserved break from office highs and lows. From historical accounts to readable analyses of future trends, we’ve found the most incisive books for those looking to feed their minds while relaxing poolside…
Behind The Cloud tells the story of cloud computing giant salesforce.com. Penned by the company’s founder, Marc Benioff, it tells the story of its growth from a kitchen table startup in 1999 to one of the US’s highest value cloud organisations, with a market cap in excess of $55 billion. Benioff describes how he and his team made it through the dot com crash in 2001, implemented strategies that allowed multiple innovations to blossom and reveals his most successful tactics for success.
In a sea of mediocre entrepreneurial self-help books, Paypal founder Peter Thiel’s bestseller (published a couple of years ago) stands resolutely out. Known as one of the more eccentric characters in the world of tech high fliers, Thiel goes beyond the usual platitudes and strategic tips to offer a refreshingly optimistic take on the nature of capitalism and the definition of success in the twenty first century. He comes down firmly on the side of capitalism and, unusually for a ‘techie’, is also very pro-sales, offering a solid argument as to why his fellow technical whizzes should do the same.
For IT professionals with a soft spot for the history of technology, a copy of science historian George Dyson’s widely-praised account of the origins of the digital world is just the ticket. It tells the story of Stamford academic John von Neumann and his fellow programmers at the US university’s Institute for Advanced Study in the decade after World War Two. The unbelievably multi-talented von Neumann and his team were charged with building one of the first computers, and Dyson reveals how the codes that they developed would eventually become at once incredibly productive and horribly destructive.
Love him or loathe him, there’s no doubt that Apple’s late founder and CEO exerts a consistent pull on many a tech professional’s imagination. This biography, which was released only a few weeks after its subject’s death in 2011, remains at the top of the tech lit tree. Walter Isaacson developed a close relationship with Jobs after conducting more than forty interviews with him over two years, as well as with family members, colleagues and friends, to offer a fascinating insight into the rise of this fiercely creative entrepreneur.
For those of you looking for an informed analysis of future tech trends, from robotics, commercial genomics and the next steps for big data, it doesn’t get much more insightful than this. Alec Ross, former senior innovation advisor to the US Secretary of State, travelled to over forty countries during his time in the post, witnessing the world’s most exciting technological trends. He combines strong storytelling skills and clear language with vivid predictions as to what we can expect over the next decade or so – a go-to read that will also appeal to any curious non-techies you might be at the beach with.