10 Years on, and it still matters?

If an article, 10 years after its initial publication date, is featured in several look backs, reviews, Q&As and still gathers reactions and emotional analysis, it can be concluded it must have struck a chord – or in this case – more an open nerve.

In May 2003*, the Harvard Business Review published “IT Doesn’t Matter” , an article by then still largely unknown editor “at large” Nicholas Carr.

The premise of the article was that infrastructure has a diminishing impact on competitiveness and that IT was infrastructure (although Carr in the recent Q&A seems to indicate he meant IT Infrastructure is Infrastructure, a lot less controversial idea). Given all the recent analysis around, I only want to zoom in on one aspect.

What still amazes me after all these years is how the last decade of IT was impacted/hindered/predicted/paralleled (pick one based on your personal emotional state with regard to the article) by the three short recommendations that were included – almost as an afterthought – in a small breakout box on page 8 of the article.

The article gave the following three “New rules for IT management”

  • Spend Less : Which arguably coincided with a decade of corporate IT anorexia?
  • Follow, don’t lead : Today we know that consumer-play IT – and not corporate IT – leads most of IT innovation (think Facebook, Twitter, Google, Netflix), and Web-scale IT is arguably about corporates following consumer-plays?
  • Focus on vulnerabilities (as for any utility the dependence on external providers increases) – Which ironically is today’s main argument for corporate’s preference for private (over public) clouds?

Is the relationship between the last 10 years of IT and the article a question of coincidence, a perfect crystal ball, extreme influence or simply good penmanship? Let me know what you think (in the comments or via @gregorpetri)

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