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CIOs Sure Think IT Matters

CIOs and chief technology officers beg to differ with a recent Harvard Business Review article titled 'IT Doesn't Matter.'
Does IT matter? A recent Harvard Business Review article titled "IT Doesn't Matter" sparked discussion among attendees at a CIO conference at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., this week. And not surprisingly, the CIOs and chief technology officers begged to differ.

General Motors Corp. CTO Tony Scott, while saying the story raised interesting points, argued with the article's premise that IT doesn't matter because it has become commoditized and provides no competitive advantage. IT that provides competitive advantages continues to be developed, Scott said, and even technology that's a commodity still provides business flexibility.

"Brakes are a commodity, but I don't think anybody would say they don't matter," Scott said, using an auto-industry analogy. Because of the rate of IT development, any company that fails to invest in IT is doomed to fall behind, he said.

CIO and executive VP Michael Harte at PFPC/PNC (part of the PNC Financial Services Group) questioned the article's argument that IT is less productive than other forms of capital. If anything, IT is becoming more productive with new generations of IT portfolio-management tools, he said. But he agreed that there's increased pressure to measure the return provided by IT investments.