Does I.T Matter? Yes, it does! Well "MAYBE"​ it doesn't? - My Take

Comments · 640 Views

My take on Nicholas Carr's 2003 article published in Harvard Business Review IT Doesn't Matter

Nicholas Carr took the world by a storm with his 2003 article published in Harvard Business Review "IT Doesn't Matter", the title was provocative and the arguments he put out made sense. Many I.T giants were exasperated by his views and the article was widely discussed and debated. He argued that I.T is nothing more than a commodity that is required to sustain any business and doesn't offer any strategic advantage because it has become ubiquitous, cheap, and easily replicable by any organization. He supported the argument by comparing I.T to infrastructure technologies like electricity and railroads, and how many companies rushed to invest, or in his terms "over-invest" in them to gain strategic advantage over rivals and eventually putting them at a cost disadvantage.

Carr suggests that companies should not over-invest in I.T, and should look out for cheaper alternatives, they shouldn't rush into getting cutting edge I.T technologies, and should only invest in tried and tested technologies, as they will "pay less while getting more", he also suggests that companies should now focus on risks rather than opportunities as companies are outsourcing I.T to vendors and third-party solutions, there is an increased threat in terms of glitches, outages, and security breaches.

Now Carr isn't wrong when he says I.T is ubiquitous, and companies run risk of overspending on I.T and they should rather focus on the security aspect of I.T, but to say that businesses should view I.T only as a commodity and not as a tool that offers them a strategic advantage isn't all true, yes it can be argued that by just using I.T you can't get that strategic advantage, but it is how you use I.T that gives you the leverage. John Seely Brown, and John Hagel III writes to HBR that to use I.T as a differentiator companies need to adopt to new business practices, that are enabled when one implements I.T, they provided examples of how Wal-Mart continuously innovated around I.T, and even when their rivals tried to replicate their practices Wal-Mart were 40% more productive. The strategic advantage of using I.T lies in the skills and insights that can extract value from I.T, and that even if I.T is ubiquitous, they are in very short supply.

The glaring point that Carr missed out on was that that unlike other infrastructure technologies I.T has an expanding functionality, the first was the advent of DBMS, then we had the internet, and few years ago and even still Cloud innovation is a big thing, and as for the current trend we have AI and ML technologies that companies are using to attain strategic advantage over rivals. If companies had taken Carr's advice, we wouldn't had seen all these advancements and innovations spurred by I.T since 2003. So yes, I.T does matter, however it should support the strategic and business goals of the organization, and shouldn't be looked on as a magic wand that will enable growth by just by implementing I.T.