Back in 2003, Harvard Business Review writer Nicholas Carr wrote an extensive article about how IT no longer mattered and it was becoming so widely used in business that it had become a commodity. Shortly after it was published, the IT community immediately began voicing their viewpoint, many sharing a difference in opinion.
From my point of view, IT is essential to the way we do business in the modern world. IT is at the forefront of businesses worldwide, and it helps drive innovation. In many ways, information technology is the driving forces behind these companies and many more are making the switch every day. Business software has become highly specialized and innovative, providing solutions that meet the demands of each unique business.
Software is developed from the ground up to help achieve the goals of a company. These systems are continually updates as changes are needed, and many are updated on the fly over night. IT is not a commodity by any stretch of the imagination. To me, it is a strategic resource that can give you a huge advantage over your competitors and help make your business as efficient as possible.
The Cost of Doing Business
Another important argument Carr made was the fact that IT costs were getting out of hand, and that companies with large IT investments rarely post good financials. Since that article was written, IT costs have come down dramatically. The system and implementation process became much more streamlined, and the amount of employees working in the IT field has grown exponentially. Advances in computer hardware have also made computer systems much more widely available. In fact, it would be strange to come across a business that did not use computers or IT to some degree.
IT has expanded into other realms as well. The mobile platforms have created a new demand for information technology in areas we have never seen. Many companies supply smart phones to all of their employees. This gives them access to their work data and contacts any time of the day. It also allows them to handle certain situations no matter where they are located. It has even allowed employees to work from home and on the go. This is something that Carr never predicted. He seemed to be more focused on the fact that the internet was becoming more mainstream and that IT would become very generic and simplified
Even Carr himself looks back at the article as says he got some things right and some things wrong. At the time, he was right. Tech companies had a business model that evolved around pushing the latest products and technologies. They would require businesses to buy upgrades every 2-3 years, a model that was hard for consumers to keep up with. It just became too costly for customers to buy and implement large system changes on a bi-yearly basis.
The industry quickly evolved, however. The trend shifted from cutting edge technology updates to a more refined process. Updates came out less and less, and the focus shifted on creating long-term solutions that were highly specialized, a change Carr did not see coming.