Friday, May 30, 2003

CNET links to Falling Off of the Cutting Edge (TechNews.com) -- a mushy and not very clear, IMO, reiteration of the theme -- does IT matter. Towards the end, the article unexpectedly lurches towards economics and the danger of deflation. On a reread, the link is clearer -- the author thinks overspending on IT, which she compares to overbuilding of railroads can result in decade-long deflationary spiral. I cannot prove that contention wrong. What I do disagree strongly with is the following statement:
Carr may be early in calling this a turning point for the industry -- for some companies, there probably still is strategic value left to be squeezed out of clever implementation of information technology. But the elbow room for seizing sustainable leads through technology is clearly diminishing as standards proliferate and computing power accelerates.

For one, this is a very general statement that many people thought to be true even during the heydey of massive IT implementations in late '90s. It was never clear to me that *anyone* could ever "size a sustainable lead through technology" since their competitors could always implement that same technology -- proprietary or otherwise -- to even the advantage. Thus, it was never the case that some tactical IT implementation conferred a special status on a company. It has been, and still is, a strong and consistent strategic vision of the role IT plays in company's business and industry that played the best dividends. That has not changed just because there is a decent email standard available for sending email or accessing the Web.
I also take exception to the phrase "..to be squeezed out of clever implementation of information technology." Squeezing out implies that most of the value has been realized, "weighted, measured, and left wanting", but that is absolutely not the case. There are miriads of ways technology can, and should be, used better within most businesses of any type. It my professional opinion we are way, way off from being at a point of "squeezing" use out of IT. At best we are getting to the point of having aged first bottles of "first press" grapes.

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