Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review

As an editor for Harvard Business Review, Nicholas Carr read many article submissions about failed IT projects. IT failures seemed endemic in the 90s, when many expensive, large-scale, complex systems were implemented. In part, as a result of reading these articles, Carr formed a number of opinions about IT that resulted in his article “IT Doesn’t Matter.”
Some of the ideas in Carr’s article are not controversial.

1. In the past, companies could spend millions of dollars to create proprietary IT applications to gain competitive advantage.

2. Proprietary IT applications are more valuable when kept to oneself. On the other hand, infrastructure is more valuable when shared.

3. Due to the internet’s speed and standards, and to the tendency to create IT applications that span company boundaries, IT applications do not provide competitive advantage for as long as they used to.
Some of the ideas in the article are controversial. While the following ideas may take some liberties with the article, they are true to the spirit of his ideas and can be found in his writings.

1. Non-IT companies should not try to gain competitive advantage through IT. For example, Cessna, an airplane manufacturer, should not try to gain competitive advantage by building a strategic information system. Instead, Carr would recommend that Cessna stick to trying to gain competitive advantage by building a better plane.

2. Non-IT companies should be in the middle of the pack when adopting innovations. For example, when the next great technological innovation is developed, companies should not rush out and purchase it. They should wait for the price to fall and for standards to develop. Then, they should buy it.

3. Non-IT companies should treat IT like a utility. Carr would argue that WSU does not generate its own electricity, and similarly it should not develop or maintain its own IT or IS. Both should be outsourced to the experts.
Write a one-page paper based upon Nicholas Carr’s article “IT Doesn’t Matter,” Carr argued that as IT becomes more pervasive, it becomes more of a commodity. In this paper, you will need to do two things:

1. State your opinion regarding the correctness of Carr’s argument. While you provide an opinion, this is not an “opinion paper.” Some opinions are better than others. Focus upon the controversial aspects of Carr’s article (see above).

2. In bullet form, list evidence that supports your opinion. Your evidence should be sufficient to fully support your opinion.

Good examples of evidence include studies, anecdotal evidence (i.e., experience of individual companies), and statements by experts.

Please be aware of the following, since all evidence is not equal.
• General statements are insufficient, so be specific when stating how your evidence supports your opinion
• Unsupported “facts” are treated as opinion, not evidence
• Carr can’t be treated as an expert, since doing so creates circularity
• The experts in Chapter 1 can’t be treated as experts, because this assignments requires you to go beyond the short assessment in the book
This assignment can be completed without reading “IT Doesn’t Matter.” A number of short, easy-to-read articles that discuss the ideas in “IT Doesn’t Matter” can be found on the internet.
This assignment is designed to help the student understand the directions that companies are moving in regard to IT. This is a useful, in part, because there is reason to believe that strategic information systems are more likely to be found in these directions.

Do the following for the Chapter 2 assignment:
• List the top ten business trends for IT.
• For each trend, briefly describe why businesses are focusing upon that trend.
• Specify the trend you consider to be the most important, and briefly (one or two sentences) state your reason(s).

The information for the first two bullets can be found on the internet. You must cite your source.

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