Nicholas Carr’s controversial article “IT Doesn’t Matter”, published in the Harvard Business Review in May of this year, continues to generate heated debate.
His fundamental argument is that technology is so ubiquitous and commoditized that its value as a strategic tool is gone.
If you haven’t read the article yet, you should. Many business executives certainly have and, unless they applied a critical intellectual effort to the exercise, it’s possible CIOs will need to defend against some simplistic, perhaps bizarre, conclusions their peers and bosses may have reached.
The ability to have technology, if your competitors can’t, is certainly an advantage. And to the extent that technology is more available by virtue of lower cost, the advantage of having is diminished. But having technology is, of course, only part of it. How IT is managed and deployed, how it’s applied to enable and support profitable business initiatives, that’s where the strategic value is realized.
In this issue and the next we feature the four CIO Canada 2003 ITX Award winners and their projects. That’s what brought Nicholas Carr’s article to mind. They offer clear evidence that technology – applied intelligently to create new business models and competitive strategies – provides clear opportunities for business advantage.
I was pleased to be part of the ITX Awards’ judging committee this year. Among the judges, one of the most common reactions to the experience was how privileged we felt to be able to review such a rich portfolio of business innovation. The ITX Awards is about business value, but a key criterion is that IT must be a critical factor in the initiative’s success.
Not only the four winning initiatives presented in these two issues, but all of the nominated initiatives demonstrate clearly that innovative and capable management of IT can create business value.
Separating technology from its management and declaring technology irrelevant makes about as much sense as separating money and its management and declaring money irrelevant.
While Carr’s article offers some interesting perspectives, the concrete testimony of the many award-worthy initiatives shows clearly that IT does matter.