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Communications of the Association for Information Systems (Volume13, 2004) 443-455 443 FROM THE CIO POINT OF VIEW: THE “IT DOESN’T MATTER” DEBATE Larry DeJarnett The Lamar Group larry.dejarnett@thelamargroup.com Robert Laskey Revelation 360 bob@revelation360.com H. Edgar Trainor Paramount Pictures ed.trainor@paramount.com EDITOR’S FOREWORD This article differs from all the articles CAIS published previously in that it is a debate on the nature of IT written by practitioners from three different points of view. It deals with IT Doesn’t Matter, a polemic written by Nicholas Carr, then editor of the Harvard Business Review in which he argued that the days when IT offered strategic advantage are long since gone and that managers…show more content…
Carr 's perception is that IT is a commodity, thus making it non-strategic by my definition. A historical view puts Carr 's premise into perspective. From the beginning and into the mid-to-late 1990 's IT uniqueness was pervasive because most systems were either custom or significantly modified application packages. The era of competitive advantage systems arose with firms such as Merrill Lynch, American Airlines and American Hospital Supply. They broke away from the back-office notion of data processing and moved into the forefront with customer-centric applications, which were deemed to be strategic at the time. The deployment of proprietary, semi- and totally custom applications was the rule. For historical purposes, most IT observers would concede that the majority of packaged application systems installed throughout this timeframe were modified significantly. Modification was required because the packaged application software was relatively thin on features and thinner yet in its ability to adapt for industries and unique business processes. The latest versions of packaged applications are much improved and hence "tweaked" significantly less. They are often used right out of the box because they can be tuned via templates or industry specific versions. In accordance with Carr 's premise,
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