Wednesday, September 15, 2004

IT Doesn't Matter - but articles about the issue might...

Being a strategist and management thinker originally raised in an IT community you might think I would be upset by the first article in HBR by Nicholas Carr called IT Doesn't Matter. The answer is no. It is not because IT is useless or uninteresting, but all revolutionary technologies matters just a short time and then become widespread and invisible. It was the same thing with the wheel, arguably one of the most important technical inventions in our civilization. Until it was spread of course it mattered on a strategic level, but then?

The debate sends other signals to me. All those people who argues against Carr must apparently believe he is wrong and believe that IT still matters at the strategic level. Some of them are of course right in their own specific context where IT still matters, but I'm very afraid that most of them are just believers. The IT religion is showing itself in bright daylight and is now forming around their technocratic thought patterns.

What Carr is probably hoping for is more nuances in the discussion about IT on the strategic business agenda. The results may as well be the opposite and may close whatever channels that may be open today. IT equipment is so cheap and so technically advanced that most IT-organizations may well, in their urge to prove the strategic importance, actually drive operational efficiency down the drain. Bad communication between the IT organization and management is very dangerous. Think about what might happen if you treat your plumber bad... The IT organization really have power to obstruct even if their power to elevate your business is rapidly decreasing.

Nicholas G. Carr: IT Doesn't Matter