The issue whether technology matters or not is a rhetorical one





The issue whether technology matters or not is a rhetorical one. However, it is not rhetoric to Nicholas G. Carr: who wrote the article ‘IT Doesn’t Matter’. According to Carr, the ubiquity and power of information technology have exhibited constant growth at the expense of its strategic importance. He compares information technology to various transformational technologies that have influenced the society and the industry altogether. Society started from the steam engine and telegraph to the electric generator and the cell phone. He states that as the older technology becomes more affordable, it is rendered unimportant.

Carr’s article holds that IT is similar to older infrastructure technology and thus has become ubiquitous as standards emerge and costs decline. Therefore, it is gradually becoming strategically irrelevant since no particular organization can acquire competitive ground from IT. Carr notes that executives fall prey to the trap of presuming that chances to gain competitive ground is available indefinitely. Competitors can however replicate processes and systems based on low cost and mature technologies. Even the protection enjoyed from a patent expires eventually. Moreover, organizations that put scarce capital on the line need to acknowledge that the successes they achieve are bound to become ubiquitous eventually. Such an advantage dissipates quickly as costs decline and standards emerge.

An example that brings out Carr’s reasoning is that early adopter universities and colleges. These institutions provided successful student recruiting methods centered on universal access to computers in their campuses. The pioneers of this strategy reaped its benefits but for a short while as other campuses began to offer the service as well. Carr supports these observations by comparing IT to railroads, electricity, and an internal combustion engine. He maintains that information technology is a crucial infrastructure that is necessary for the continuation of modern civilization. For many companies, being relevant in the market requires massive outlays of IT. All organizations can and should use IT if they with to remain competitive. This premise applies to higher education that focuses on the preservation, integration, and transmission, of knowledge and information.

However, Carr argues that IT is similar to other infrastructure such as electricity and is subject to becoming strategically invisible because individual organizations cannot be able to gain competitive ground by using it. It is important to recognize that Carr’s view does not suggest the death of IT or it will cease being important. He argues that organizations require more than just a good IT to foster a winning culture. If reliable IT infrastructure can be employed, the organizations can rest be assured of amassing competitive edge in their respective fields.

Ultimately, organizations that fail to incorporate new infrastructure technologies are bound to fail. There are numerous examples to site from Carr’s article. Some of these examples include steamships replacing sailing ships, railroads edging out canal companies, and electricity superseding waterpower. Most recently, society is witnessing the replacement of analog media with digital media. The impact of digital technology on past infrastructure is devastating. Carr acknowledges strategic winners that employed new technology but reiterates that these advantages can be superseded if other organizations adopt the same strategies. Ultimately, the research arena has adopted advanced IT infrastructure. Without consistent IT infrastructure and relevant governance model, current universities and colleges do not stand a chance of recruiting and retaining first-rate scholars and scientist from various disciplines.



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