Nicholas Carr created quite a stir in 2003, when he wrote the article “Why IT Doesn't Matter Anymore” in the Harvard Business Review. And now, he has followed that up with another piece, “The end of corporate computing”. In the first article, Carr argued that IT has become so common place that it ceases to have a strategic edge. That strategic edge comes from scarcity and not ubiquity. Now, going forward, Carr argues that corporate computing, as we know it is destined to wither away and will be replaced by utility services that corporates will subscribe to.
Carr theorizes that a new industry will evolve that will replace the existing Corporate IT department. According to him, this new industry will have three major components-the IT utilities that will provide the outsourced services, the vendors who will provide the infrastructure and application components to the utilities and the network operators who will provide the data communication lines for the system to work.
|Krishna Kumar, Editor|
Provocative headline apart, Mr. Carr is stating nothing new. In fact in the pages of PCQuest, and at numerous PCQuest seminars we have discussed these very scenarios again and again. There is a shift towards the utility model in computing, and I myself have written about it many times in this very page. But that is not a be-all or end-all solution.
There are two arguments I have with Carr's theory. While what he says may be largely true for the denizens of the various lists that magazines like Fortune like to bring out, how can corporate computing as we know it now, come to an end in the millions of medium and small business around the world that are yet to taste the very first fruits of IT enablement? In countries like ours, even 250 years after the discovery of electricity, the first thing you do when building an office is to make provision for standby or even full time generators; how soon do you think will utility computing services provided on tap will be the norm?
There was a time when all that mattered in IT was what the big boys were buying. But that is a thing of the past.
Today, it is the little business tucked away in a not so famous corner of a not so big town that is providing double digit growth to the IT industry.
There is no way their needs can be ignored.
In my humble opinion, we are not near a mono-cultural society when it comes to IT implementation. We are still very much a multi-cultural society, where different IT implementation models will coexist to meet different needs and scales of necessity and ability. Corporate computing as we know it will continue to flourish, and flourish well for some time to come, in businesses and areas that the revered HBR does not often focus on.