IT doesn’t matter

IT doesn’t matter

That’s “IT” as in “Information Technology”… doesn’t matter. This article by Nicholas Carr first appeared in the Harvard Business Review in May 2003. He reprinted it here on his blog Rough Type in January of 2007. It’s fairly lengthy (8 parts) but worth the investment.

Here’s one of his key punchlines: the commoditization of IT…

“Behind the change in thinking lies a simple assumption: that as IT’s potency and ubiquity have increased, so too has its strategic value. It’s a reasonable assumption, even an intuitive one. But it’s mistaken. What makes a resource truly strategic -– what gives it the capacity to be the basis for a sustained competitive advantage –- is not ubiquity but scarcity. You only gain an edge over rivals by having or doing something that they can’t have or do. By now, the core functions of IT –- data storage, data processing, and data transport –- have become available and affordable to all. Their very power and presence have begun to transform them from potentially strategic resources into commodity factors of production. They are becoming costs of doing business that must be paid by all but provide distinction to none.”

It’s an extremely well-written article, and very thought-provoking. I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about enrollments in Computer Science programs around the world, and wondering what role this sort of commoditization of information services plays in all of that. Obviously it may have a greater impact on programs like Information Systems or Information Technology, but all of these academic programs seem to be rising and falling together to some extent.

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