A Harsh Assessment Of IT From Peter Drucker

Information technology is still not delivering on the promises made by vendors.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

February 12, 2003

1 Min Read

Time finally is catching up with Peter Drucker. The famed business theorist, now 93, was slated to participate in an extended Q&A session at a Delphi Group conference in San Diego on Tuesday, but his failing health forced Delphi to conduct the session remotely, with Drucker having recorded voice responses to questions submitted beforehand by conference attendees.

Despite the less-intimate format, Drucker's perspectives still carried weight with the audience. He shared the notion that corporate IT hasn't come close to delivering the benefits companies have been looking for. "Information technology is beginning to supply the information we need for business decisions," Drucker said. "It provides nothing of use about the outside business environment." Where IT has been most helpful, he said, is in supporting internal operational decisions.

Joseph Langhauser, an engineering group manager at General Motors attending the conference, said he's experienced that first hand. IT tools, he says, have proliferated faster than the company can capitalize on them. "We don't need any more IT," Langhauser says. "We need to figure out the business processes we have."

Drucker also reiterated his longstanding stance that knowledge management is a misnomer, because knowledge simply isn't something that can be managed. Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank's chief knowledge and learning officer for the Africa region, agrees, saying The World Bank dropped the term knowledge management years ago. Says Gorjestani, "I don't know what I know until I need to know it."

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