Way back in May 2003, Nick Carr published the article “IT Doesn’t Matter” in the Harvard Business Review.
For those of you who don’t remember it, Carr’s piece was a doozy and then some. He argued that companies paying top dollar for the latest and greatest technological equipment were spending a lot to buy a very limited competitive edge, if any. The chief executive officers of the largest technology companies reacted to this proposition as you might expect. Ignoring all the nuances in Carr’s argument, they viewed it as a wholesale attack on technology. Carly Fiorina, then CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), called Carr “dead wrong.” Other technology kingpins chimed in with similar vitriol.
In truth, it has taken just about 10 years for Carr’s view of the world to reach mass adoption. Without question, some startups are producing cutting-edge technology and some customers are taking advantage of their wares to one-up rivals. On the whole, however, corporations now seem to prefer, whenever practical, to rent the same computing services their rivals do, rather than try to build custom systems.
Most of the people I talk to these days are like Siobhan McFeeney, who heads up information systems management for the AAA in Northern California, Nevada, and Utah. She has Salesforce.com (CRM) running for customer relations, Workday for human
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