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I.T. doesn’t matter – Bhavin Gandhi’s Review

30 Aug

“IT Doesn’t Matter” is the article published in the May 2003 edition of the Harvard Business Review (Carr, 2003). It examines the evolution of information technology in the business world and demonstrates how IT is built into the infrastructure of today’s world. But as its availability increases and its cost decreases, IT will become a commodity input. And like any other commodity in the history, IT will not allow a business to create a competitive advantage. Hence, the author proposes not to invest heavily on IT projects.

The author makes several good points in his article such as – businesses have over-invested in underutilized technologies without analyzing its strategic advantage. For example, few years back I wanted to buy a new laptop. So, I bought a new MacBook Pro with Photoshop CS4. As a MBA student, I hardly use high processing applications. There was no need, whatsoever, for me to buy a Laptop with 2.6GHz of processor and 4GB of RAM. But I might have felt the need to be on the bleeding edge of the technology, and may be most of the IT enthusiast managers feel the same way.

While the author has many convincing arguments regarding his stand, I still believe that – IT matters more than ever in today’s world. The author seems to confuse IT with computing. Cars, Trains and Air Lines could be considered commodities. Transportation isn’t. I agree that major elements of computing have been turning into commodities, like CPU, RAM, Disks, etc. But IT is more than that (Freund, 2007).

Dr. Harold contradicts the author’s stand in his paper about technology and e-government. He suggests that without IT, effective and competitive organization is impossible and nothing gets efficiently done (Wesso, July 2004). He goes further by saying that – if IT is not being procured and deployed effectively and efficiently, then that matters very much. Appropriate IT use may not enable an organization or society to ‘get ahead’, but it is very vital just to ‘keep up’.

This article is based on the assumption that businesses have overestimated the strategic value of IT. I agree that businesses should manage the tangible aspects of IT as a commodity because the opportunities for ‘strategic differentiation’ with IT have become scarce. But I do not agree with the author’s stand on this topic. I believe that the author’s opinion might have been biased due to the ‘dot com’ bubble burst, as this article was written during that time.

I believe that the author has over-stated the fact that IT holds no strategic value at all. On the contrary, I believe that IT has become an irreplaceable part of the business. For example, I used to work in a company named Book of Odds, Inc. (www.bookofodds.com). Being a small sized company, this company didn’t have a big budget to spend on their marketing efforts. So, they utilized tools of social media to market themselves. This approach gave them more visibility than they would have got through other means of marketing. For this ‘social media marketing’ initiative, the company didn’t have to invest much in its IT infrastructure. But the benefits got from this initiative were way more than the investment. Thus, IT certainly provided strategic advantage for Book of Odds, Inc.

In today’s world, we are overloaded with information. And IT can help us analyze this information for our benefit. Thus, if use right – IT can differentiate your business as compared to your competitors. And IT matters more than ever, in this fastest changing world.

References:

  1. Carr, N. G. (2003, May 01). IT Doesn’t Matter. Retrieved Aug 24, 2010, from Harvard Business Review: http://hbr.org/product/it-doesn-t-matter/an/R0305B-PDF-ENG
  2. Freund, G. (2007, Jan 03). IT doesn’t matter, part 1. Retrieved Aug 24, 2010, from Rough Type: http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2007/01/it_doesnt_matte.php
  3. Wesso, D. H. (July 2004). Technology, e-government & economic development. Centre for e-Innovation.
 
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Posted by on August 30, 2010 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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