Publisher: Harvard Business School, 2004, 191 pages
Every year, companies spend more than $2 trillion on computer and communications equipment and services. Underlying these enormous expenditures is one of modern business's most deeply held assumptions: that information technology is increasingly critical to competitive advantage and strategic success.
In this explosive and engaging book, Nicholas G. Carr calls the common wisdom into question, contending that IT's strategic importance has actually dissipated as its core functions have become available and affordable to all. Expanding on the controversial Harvard Business Review article that provoked a storm a debate around the world, Does IT Matter? shows that IT - like earlier infrastructural technologies such as railroads and electric power - is steadily evolving from a profit-boosting proprietary resource to a simple cost of doing business.
Carr draws on convincing historical and contemporary examples to explain why innovations in hardware, software, and networking are rapidly replicated by competitors, neutralizing their strategic power to set one business apart from the pack. He shows why IT's emergence as a shared and standardized infrastructure is a natural and necessary process that may ultimately deliver huge economic and social benefits.
At the same time, the new IT infrastructure presents a host of challenges for businesses. Carr lays out a new agenda for IT management that stresses cost control and risk management over innovation and investment, and offers guidelines executives can follow to reevaluate everything from spending and staffing to security and outsourcing. He also examines IT's broader strategic implications, highlighting hazards that could ensnare unwary managers.
The way that executives respond to IT's changing role will influence their companies' - and their own - fortunes fr years to come. An eloquent and long-overdue assessment of one of the most important business phenomena of our time, Does IT Matter? is a must-read for business and technology managers, investors and policy makers, and anyone with a stake in IT's future.
An interesting and thought provoking reading. I fully agree that most IT departments and IT managers are counter-productive and self-serving. I most certainly doesn't agree with the fact that IT doesn't confer a competitive advantage if used right (ask BP with their custom-made clusters for oil-exploration or GE with their increase in IT spending while their profits roar or any mid-sized company whose new ERP-system manages to save them money and allows them better control of their finances).
Needless to say, I find this book interesting and a welcome provocation, while at the same time finding the examples and the thinking behind the theories fatally flawed.
It is recommended reading, as long as you don't fall for the flawed thinking.