Why X Doesn’t Matter

One of the many things low on my to-do list (right down there with blogging more often) is to do more to promote the gospel and reasoning of Nick “IT Doesn’t Matter” Carr (he uses the less definitive “Does IT Matter?” when trying to sell books to swing audiences).  His argument is that since technology is now widely available to any company, there is no sense using it for competitive advantage.  This reasoning drives technology people crazy and often results in incoherent sputtering in response.  


My view is the democratization of technology is something to praise, not bemoan.  I’m not sure anything provides sustainable competitive advantage over the long term and there isn’t a lot of history to suggest technology ever did.  Technology, like anything else, is a “what have you done for me lately” input.  But I’ll leave it to others to have that argument.  I’m more interested in how this reasoning might be applied in other areas.  I’ve been toying with doing a couple articles for the Harvard Business Review in this vein.


One is “Brains Don’t Matter”.  After all, everyone has a brain, so why bother to think?  If you come up with a good idea, someone else will see it and copy it, so why waste the time and energy?


Another is “Food Doesn’t Matter” for the restaurant business.  Everyone has access to the same raw ingredients, so why bother trying to differentiate yourself on the quality of the food you prepare.  Instead, focus on more sustainable advantages like parking, cushy chairs, napkin quality and maybe a nice view.  You can outsource the food preparation to a local pizza place that has economies of scale.  And in the long run, of course, visionaries tell us we’ll move to the Utility Food™ model where every restaurant has a pipe that just pumps in Soylent Green or whatever.  You may laugh, but this Utility Food™ model is being tested today.  


(That was a long way to go to get that last link in, but the alternative post of “My jokes are coming true” needed more context).