Does IT matter?
An essay presented to the
Department of Information Systems
University of Cape Town
Due: March 200x
In partial fulfillment of the requirements for
Full-Time Information Systems Honours (INF414W) 200x
I know that plagiarism is wrong. Plagiarism is to use another’s work and pretend that it is one’s own.
I have used the Harvard Convention for citation and referencing. Each contribution to, and quotation in, this ESSAY: DOES IT MATTER from the works of other people has been attributed, and has been cited and referenced.
This ESSAY: DOES IT MATTER is my own work.
I have not allowed, and will not allow, anyone to copy my work with the intention of passing it off as his or her own work
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In a controversial article, IT Doesn’t Matter, by Nicholas Carr (2003) the conclusion was reached that Information Technology (IT) is at a point where it has become a necessity for business and no longer offers any strategic advantages.
This document will take a closer look at Carr’s reasoning behind for his argument that IT does not matter and analyse the validity thereof.
IT Does NOT Matter
Nicholas Carr, editor of the Harvard Business Review, wrote a controversial article entitled “IT Doesn’t Matter”, which sparked off heated debate. A general uproar from the IT industry arguing the contra - resulted in a proliferation of articles attempting to back a claim that IT does in fact matter a great deal. For the purposes of this document it is necessary to have a clear understanding as to Carr’s argument and his reasoning. The following is a brief summary and clarification of Carr’s argument, “IT Doesn’t Matter”:
The main argument which Carr (2003) makes is that IT has become so ubiquitous, universally used, that it’s use no longer offers any strategic advantages in business, being no more than a commodity, similar to electricity or the internal combustion engine. Therefore, IT Does Not Matter, as everybody has access to the same IT resources.
During the growth phase of IT, many companies rushed to computerise their business functions. This was done at the cost of large capital investments, but was deemed to be a strategic necessity for survival. IT posed a strategic resource which could be exploited for huge financial gains, if used or used better than competing organisations.
IT’s focus have changed in recent years from the mad rush and spending of millions to develop new innovative proprietary systems to the current struggle by IT managers to use standardised technology infrastructure more effectively (Wahl, 2004).
Carr (2003) argues that IT has since become the backbone of commerce, being firmly incorporated into all the various facets of most organisations, ranging from the supply chain to business-customer interaction. With the dramatic fall in the cost of IT, destroying the cost barrier to entry, IT as a resource, including all core functions (data storage, processing and transport), have become available to most companies (Carr, 2003). As more companies incorporate IT into their businesses, IT has become strategically invisible (Carr, 2003).
Carr (2003) further argues that the only way IT can form a basis for a strategic advantage is through the use of protected rights, i.e. proprietary technologies, which cannot be exploited by competing organisation, thus ensuring a long-term strategic advantage.
Proprietary technology does offer a level of strategic advantages, but become more advantages to society when it becomes infrastructural and ubiquitous (unknown, 2004). This is clearly evident when applied to Carr’s (2003) example; when only one or two factories used electricity, they had a huge strategic advantage, but once electricity became infrastructural the...
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Carr, Nicholas G. (2003) “IT Doesn’t Matter” Harvard Business Review May 2003, pp. 41 - 49
Champy, James (2003) “Technology Doesn’t Matter – but Only at Harvard” Fast Company December 2003, Issue 77
DeJarnett, L., Laskey, R., Trainor, H. Edgar (2004) “From the CIO Point of View: The “IT DOESN’T MATTER” Debate” Communications of the Association for Information Systems Volume 13, 2004, pp. 443 – 455
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Schrage, M. (2003) “Why IT Really Does Matter” CIO Magazine August 1, 2003
Unknown (2004) “Does IT matter?” Economist March 3, 2004, Volume 371, Issue 8369
Unknown2 (2004) “In Declaring Microsoft Dead, Nicholas Carr is Dead Wrong” CartnerG2 August 2004
Wahl, A (2004) “IT’s identity crisis” Canadian Business January 19, 2004, Volume 77, Issue 2, pp. 17
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