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Does It Matter?: Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage Hardcover – 1 May 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press; First Printing edition (1 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591394449
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591394440
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 15.2 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 578,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Author

In May 2003, I published an article entitled "IT Doesn’t Matter" in the Harvard Business Review. Described as "the rhetorical equivalent of a 50 megaton smart bomb" by one newspaper, the article challenged the conventional wisdom that information technology has become increasingly important as a strategic weapon in business. In fact, I argued, IT is becoming less and less important to business strategy as it becomes more powerful and more widespread. Some of the leading figures in the technology industry quickly attacked the article. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer dismissed it as "hogwash," while Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina called me "dead wrong." But the debate over my ideas only intensified as the year progressed, with articles appearing in publications as diverse as the New York Times and Fortune, BusinessWeek and Newsweek, the Washington Post and CIO.

In Does IT Matter? Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage, I offer a broader and deeper analysis of the role of IT in business and commerce. Taking into account the myriad responses to the original article, both positive and negative, I examine the particular technological, economic, and competitive characteristics of computer and communications hardware and software that guide their evolution and determine their fate. Through a series of historical and contemporary examples, I show how these characteristics combine to push all new IT innovations to rapidly become part of the shared business infrastructure, neutralizing their ability to provide competitive advantage to any one firm.

I also discuss the practical implications for how companies approach IT management, laying out a new framework for assessing potential IT investments based not only on their likely return on investment but also on the competitive responses they’re likely to engender. Business and technology managers will come away from the book with a fresh and coherent perspective that will help them make sense of – and derive real value from - the enormous sums of money they devote to information technology. The time has come, I argue, to apply real discipline to IT management, to turn the IT infrastructure into a stable, efficient, and reliable foundation for running a business.

Beyond IT management itself, the book also examines the influence of the new IT infrastructure on other traditional sources of competitive advantage. Again taking issue with the common wisdom, I will show that many of the current assumptions about process automation, outsourcing, partnering, and virtual business are simplistic and dangerous. Companies that act on the assumptions are more likely to destroy advantage than create it.

Given the world economy’s heavy reliance on information technology, I believe these are subjects of importance to everyone. I have therefore written the book in straightforward prose, avoiding the jargon that makes much of the current writing on computer systems dense and obscure. I think anyone who buys, sells, manages, or uses IT – or invests in companies that do – will find the book invigorating and useful. I hope you’ll agree.

- Nicholas G. Carr

About the Author

Nicholas G. Carr is a former Executive Editor and Editor-at-Large for Harvard Business Review.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark Hillary on 16 July 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read Carr's original 2003 article in the Harvard Business Review and could see it would stir up the 21st Century debate over IT and competitive advantage. It certainly did that, with just about every IT commentator supporting or deriding his argument that IT is now mature enough to become an accepted part of corporate infrastructure - much like the plumbing or electricity supply to an office. He has a good point about IT as a maturing industry and it is well-argued in this compact book. I don't agree with everything he says, but anyone involved in business today should be aware of the debate surrounding this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Junglies on 20 May 2009
Format: Hardcover
What drew me to this title so many years after the original publication date was the increasing media focus on web 2.0, which made me wonder about any lessons which we should have learned after the so called dot.com bubble.

What I found in this little book is a judicious mix of a number of differing insights from many areas of business and economics which purport to show that the establishment of a novel infrastructure does not necessarily mean that there is an increasing level of productivity arising from it.

I find the argument more than convincing. Indeed, for me it is not the productivity gains which result from the development of the technology, it's introduction or even it's widespread take up which elevates it to the status of infrastructure which even matters. It is the knowledge of how that infrastructure can be utilised which is the crucial element of productivity gains.

What needs to be considered is not the general traffic which uses the infrastructure, after all, if one contempltes this for any period of time, then surely it must be realised that those gains are only there initially. As traffic continues to increase using the new as opposed to the antiquated technology, productivity gains must be subject to diminishing returns up until such a point where congestion becomes a problem.

Productivity can be enhanced through peripheral technological improvements which can stave off congestion and the increased costs associated with it.

Thus it is with web 2.0. Productivity gains associated with the convergence of the existing technologies have essentially already been exploited and the enterprise economy must be looking for further innovation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Adrian S. on 24 April 2009
Format: Hardcover
After being advised by a colleague to read this book I was sceptical as to what benefit a book that questioned my job would give. However, I was impressed to learn the parallels between innovation within other industries and IT, it also ensured that I question the roll out of latest/newest technology within IT with an open mind rather than presuming newer is better.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend to anyone working within the IT service environment.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book came in good order. Nice piece of book to read for anyone interested in IT.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Olga on 17 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Isn't very usefool but I can read it and maybe teach from this. It is important too see books like this.
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