Via Slashdot, I just read Bob Metcalfe's (Mr Ethernet) June 2004 piece ripping Carr's Harvard Business Review article “IT Doesn’t Matter”  to shreds. Here are some of the highlights of Meclafe's rebuttal:

"I asked how much IT matters of Frank Gens, senior vice president for the information technology market research giant IDC. (Full disclosure: IDC is owned by IDG, on whose board I serve.) IDC reports that the global investment in information technology (including telecommunications) totaled $1.9 trillion in 2003 and, despite Carr, will climb to $2.0 trillion in 2004."

Gulp...

"Carr concludes that since information technology no longer provides a competitive advantage to businesses, they should stop spending wildly on advanced information technology products and services.

...As evidence, Carr points out that my 30-year-old baby, Ethernet, has been standardized and commoditized...It’s true that last year more than 184 million new Ethernet ports were shipped, at a value of $12.5 billion"

Slap...

"But now that the post-Internet-bubble nuclear winter is almost over, Ethernet is speeding up, to beyond 1,000 megabits (one gigabit) per second. Ethernet is going into wide-area networks. It’s going wireless. It’s going into embedded systems—the eight billion microprocessors shipped every year that don’t go into PCs...."

Hey Bob! Don't forget my Xbox Live!...


"Carr wrongly equates today’s information technologies with electricity, and then he wrongly characterizes electricity as static. In short, Carr, deep into a post-bubble depression, wrongly declares the end of history..."

'Static'.<!>.gettit??...anyway...

"In Carr’s reply to early critics, published on the Web by the Harvard Business Review in June 2003, he wrote that his article “has at least succeeded in setting off an important and long-overdue debate about the role of information technology in business.” I don’t think so. If anything, Carr has succeeded only in misleading his readers....

He urges IT managers not to venture foolishly out onto technology’s cutting edge and to buy only that which has low risk and high value to their companies. Carr urges this as if it were breaking news...

If business executives follow Carr’s advice, who will provide innovation’s test beds? How will new technologies find their markets? This may be the most important reason to debunk Carr’s arguments once and for all: if they harden into conventional business wisdom, American ingenuity will be strangled in its bassinet."

Oh come on Bob, let us try to broaden this out...just little...how about 'the developed and the developing world'...?

"Carr argues that things that are widely available, like IT, cannot be used for sustained competitive advantage. Well, since Harvard Business Review is received by almost a quarter-million people and can be bought by anyone with $16.95, then according to Carr’s own argument, that publication itself doesn’t matter. Cancel your subscription and download any interesting articles from back issues—which any teenager will be able to find for you on the Internet for free."

Good points well made...and now Carr has recently published his latest rendition of the provocative meme, I'm sure there will be plenty more to come on this polarising subject.  Metcalfe's full article is here.