IT matters, but it shouldn’t

Remember back in 2003 when Nicholas Carr upset a raft of people with his “Why IT Doesn’t Matter” article in the Harvard Business Review?  It was a very provocative title that warped his real meaning.  The thrust of his argument was that IT had become a commodity and did not provide companies with a competitive advantage.  Therefore, business executives should examine and rethink the way they invest in technology and IT.  The article’s hyped title offended a great many people in IT who spent (I suspect) an inordinate amount of time coming up with proof to refute Mr. Carr’s argument. 

I work in IT and I think he was right, not in the message of the title but in the message of his content.  IT did become commoditized and that was a good thing.  ITIL and automation were smart developments that took us all down that path of standard processes, of trying to remove human and software intersect points.  We had no choice but to strive for that because it was the only way we could scale to the needs of the business.   Throw into the mix a healthy employment market for IT workers and we had the predictable outcome…. one well-run IT shop looked like every other well-run IT shop.  Now we’re seeing the next evolution of that direction with the popularization of Cloud Computing.  Talk about commoditization; that’s what the Cloud is all about.   Companies will always be able to find a competitive advantage somewhere in their processes and Cloud Computing will be one method, but just for awhile until it becomes the widely accepted and standard means of delivering service.  Then, as Mr. Carr predicts in his book ” The Big Switch“, computing will be seen the same way electricity is seen today, invisibly and unconsciously to most people.  We’re not there yet but the industry is certainly on the right track.

About Peter Armaly
I get jazzed by automation, big data, and blockchain tech. Business, technology, and fitness are things I understand. Scotch, wine, food, and fiction are things I appreciate.

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