Article from CIO Magazine

May 4, 2004

The Argument Over IT

Author Nicholas Carr and CIO Editor in Chief Abbie Lundberg go toe-to-toe on
the strategic value of IT.

About a year ago, the Harvard Business Review published an article titled
“IT Doesn’t Matter.” It ignited a vehement and often acrimonious debate over
the value of information technology. Since then, Nicholas Carr, the author
of the article, has expanded on his original thesis that while IT’s value
will increase as it becomes more standardized and ubiquitous, “the ability
of any one company to use IT in a distinctive way to gain competitive
advantage will diminish until…it will make more sense to manage IT as a
commodity input–something that is absolutely necessary but [that] isn’t
going to set you apart from competitors.”
Carr has faced off with detractors in print and onstage, and this month sees
the publication of his new book, Does IT Matter? the title of which suggests
Carr may have backed off his original position a bit. (He hasn’t.) Carr
spoke recently with CIO Editor in Chief Abbie Lundberg to explore his
conclusions and the assumptions underlying them, one of which is that all
information technology is “infrastructure.” (See “The Engine that Drives
Success” on Page 36 for author Don Tapscott’s response to Carr.)CIO: Most
people distinguish between infrastructure technologies and the applications
that ride on them. You seem not to make that distinction.


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