I’m currently reading a book called Does IT Matter?, by author Nicholas G. Carr. It basically talks about how IT’s competitive advantage has been corroded through the commodatisation of IT.
IT as a Commodity
I had never thought of IT in this way consciously, of IT as a commodity. When we talk of IT as a commodity, we are comparing IT to things like the railway system, telephones, and the electric grid. IT has become ubiquitous: it is everywhere.
No longer can a company say that because they make use of IT, they have an advantage over competitors: that would be akin to saying that by having electricity they have an advantage over competitors.
The reasons behind the commoditisation of IT has been said to come from the homogenising of IT, of the creation of standards, of how all IT hardware and software have evolved to become so similar they cease to possess inherent compeitive advantages.
And with the advent of the Internet, the commoditisation process has been sped up, with standardisation becoming all the more important as we seek to share more and more information with increasingly larger numbers of people.
While reading the chapter on the homogenising of IT, and IT software in particular, Windows Vista vs. Mac OS X came to mind. The similarities between Microsoft’s latest OS and Mac OS X is uncanny.
So, Does IT Matter?
I think that IT does still matter, though no more can have a competitive advantage over others just by possessing it.
The focus is no longer whether one should or should not use IT, but rather, how one can use IT creatively.
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