Technology and the organization…

It was in I think the May 2003 edition of the Harvard Business Review that Nicholas G. Carr opined that ‘IT doesn’tmatter’. He  argued that IT added no more value to an organization that had not IT. It was an earth shocking paper in its approach. Contrarian views are never popular and then again these were about the industry which has after all includes some of the richest people in the world in its roster. The paper caused quite a furore and the big daddies like the computer operating and office productivity software maker from Seattle and I think that other big daddy yacht guy making databases and stuff got really wild with some very angry comments.


But then again is not there something there – rich are the people making and selling technology and off course they would not brook a perspective denouncing what they do. The debate is I think no longer alive now – but there were interesting thoughts there. There was I beleiev a conspiracy theory on that article too which argued that the author along with large contractors was trying to argue high IT wages down!


Technology is a fair maiden and a glamorous one at that – and everyone loves her – whatever be the reason they do. But the thing with technology is that there are as are everywhere else – too many con men out there and too many mediocre people trying to get ahead and no wonder it does not work for a lot of people. Decisions on technology have often been taken by organization for considerations beyond what technology delivers. Convoluted purchase processes do not make it any easier to ensure that the best tech wins.  Is there a cause and effect relationship here – tech may be great and may be sexy – but isn’t the jury is still out on whether it makes or breaks a co.? Well tech is what makes the email work – when it is needed and the ERP work without trouble and that is as we all know is what it was supposed to do anyway?


For a lot of people – technology is just another thing you need to add to the building and electricity and the rest of those fixed costs – they know why they need the building – but usually they are not too sure why they need the technology and as usual they are buying it the way they buy their news papers and their stationery. There is inevitably no clear thought process that goes into the decision – for a lot of people it serves as a huge mandatory requirement type of a thingy!


It is not without reason that they ask whether technology has any value for the organization?!! I am not surprised that it is not obvious! Any investment provides returns if you know why you made that investment and if you knew that there are chances that you will find some value out of it. If however you made it because every one else were doing it and you just found one which was cheaper than everyone else – is that not a lot like a making a decision for the wrong reasons?


In my experience and I feel have a fair amount of it on the issue – I can and will argue that CIOs and people in charge of the tech initiative or installation and maintenance of technology (fair maiden as she is!) within the firm are making – often the wrong choices. There is a fad buying going on out there and there is a trend and often a fad becomes a trend and not very often – but it does – it can – become ‘de rigueur’ – the done thing!.


I offer that if people were to approach their tech investments as what they are – an enabler. We need to define clear results – clear deliverables – but none the less this is not something that will not do the job in itself – but will only work how you make it all stick together and what plan on achieving with it. It is a lot like they did in America – when they argued that the gun makers must be sued cause they made guns and these were used to kill people, because Mac Donald’s made fast food and people wanted to eat it and hence they are to blame that made it!

About Soumya
A technology enthusiast, forever enamored by all that it hath wrought and of course here is an attempt at making sense of it all and perhaps simplifying it!

One Response to Technology and the organization…

  1. Unknown says:

    Great write-up and very true too!

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