Does IT matter?

In a May 2003 article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “IT Doesn’t Matter,” Nicholas G. Carr introduced the idea that information tech- nology (IT) does not provide a competitive advantage to companies in a strate- gic manner. In Does IT Matter?, Carr argues that IT has become a commodity, and because the very nature of strategy requires differentiation, IT cannot pos- sibly qualify. Although IT has made spectacular gains in the last half century, it is no different than other disruptive technologies that have transformed the world since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It may have provided a differentiated advantage to some companies early on, but over time IT has grown cheaper and more standardized so that it is easily accessible to every- one. IT can be used to supplement and improve strategy implementation, but it is not the foundation of a competitive advantage. To handle this new approach to IT, executives will have to prevent the commoditization of IT architecture and applications from destroying their companies’ barriers to competitive advantages. Although that role is not yet entirely clear, executives need to pre- pare for the prospect that IT doesn’t matter to strategy.