Much ado about IT: a response to “the corrosion of IT advantage” by Nicholas G. Carr

Much ado about IT: a response to “the corrosion of IT advantage” by Nicholas G. Carr This article takes issue with Nick Carr’s thesis, developed in his book and in articles for Harvard Business Review and the Journal of Business Strategy , that IT has become a commodity. The thesis, write the authors, draws upon a straw man argument based on analogy and gross simplification of the nature of IT investment. Carr argues that IT has become a commodity, much as railroads and electricity became in the past, and therefore it cannot possibly produce competitive advantage. But IT is different from earlier technologies in two fundamental ways. First, its growth and change potential is unprecedented and still continues, and second, it is the most versatile and flexible technological platform the human race has ever created. Carr also fails to emphasize how much more important IT has become as a consequence of its ubiquity in executing successful business strategies. Telling people that they won’t obtain competitive advantage from IT will lead them to pay less attention to it, leading to worse results, and a self‐fulfilling prophecy. IT will indeed become incapable of contributing to competitive advantage. Yet it is very difficult to find examples of large scale strategic successes and failures in the past decade in which IT was not a contributor to the result. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Business Strategy Emerald Publishing

Much ado about IT: a response to “the corrosion of IT advantage” by Nicholas G. Carr

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0275-6668
DOI
10.1108/02756660410569157
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article takes issue with Nick Carr’s thesis, developed in his book and in articles for Harvard Business Review and the Journal of Business Strategy , that IT has become a commodity. The thesis, write the authors, draws upon a straw man argument based on analogy and gross simplification of the nature of IT investment. Carr argues that IT has become a commodity, much as railroads and electricity became in the past, and therefore it cannot possibly produce competitive advantage. But IT is different from earlier technologies in two fundamental ways. First, its growth and change potential is unprecedented and still continues, and second, it is the most versatile and flexible technological platform the human race has ever created. Carr also fails to emphasize how much more important IT has become as a consequence of its ubiquity in executing successful business strategies. Telling people that they won’t obtain competitive advantage from IT will lead them to pay less attention to it, leading to worse results, and a self‐fulfilling prophecy. IT will indeed become incapable of contributing to competitive advantage. Yet it is very difficult to find examples of large scale strategic successes and failures in the past decade in which IT was not a contributor to the result.

Journal

Journal of Business StrategyEmerald Publishing

Published: Dec 1, 2004

Keywords: Strategy; Competition; Competitive advantage; Information technology; Automation; Processes

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