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What makes a resource truly strategic - what gives it the capacity to be the basis for a sustained competitive advantage - is not ubiquity but scarcity. You only gain an edge over rivals by having or doing something that they can't have or do. By now, the core functions of IT - data storage, data processing, and data transport - have become available and affordable to all.1 Their very power and presence have begun to transform them from potentially strategic resources into commondity factors of production. They are becoming costs of doing business that must be paid by all but provide distinction to none.

IT is best seen as the latest in a series of broadly adopted technologies that have reshaped industry over the past two centuries - from the steam engine and the railroad to the telegraph and the telephone to the electric generator and the internal combustion engine. For a brief period, as they were being built into the infrastructure of commerce, all these technologies opened opportunities for forward-looking companies to gain real advantages. But as their availability increased and their cost decreased - as they became ubiquitous - they became commodity inputs. From a strategic standpoint, they became invisible; they no longer mattered. That is exactly what is happening to information technology today, and the implications for corporate IT management are profound.

- "IT Doesn't Matter," Nicholas G. Carr http://www.nicholasgcarr.com/, Harvard Business Online http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b02/en/home/index.jhtml?_requestid=7348, Harvard Business Review http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b02/en/hbr/hbr_home.jhtml, Pages 4 - 11, May 2003. Reprints here http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b02/en/common/item_detail.jhtml?referral=4320&id=R0305B&_requestid=7587

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Post Date: March 26, 2005 at 7:55 AM CST; 1355 GMT