I’ve recently finished reading Nick Carr’s excellent book on Does IT Matter? Since IT touches everyone’s organization – even if it is not in your job scope, I recommend this book for an interesting read. He does have some succinct arguments on why most (as in 95% in his view) of IT is non-differentiating and therefore non-strategic for an organization. Depending on your business directions you may choose to disagree.
The most interesting part of the book to my mind is a good chapter on vendor ‘overshoot’. It is a little like the Innovator’s Dilemma problem; in the software industry vendors must keep adding features and functions to continually differentiate their products from their competition. However these advanced features only appeal to a small minority of users. This leads to ‘overshooting’ – new features and functions whether you really need them or not, and hence the pressure to continually upgrade. Of course, that’s not all bad – because sometimes there are things you find really useful in a new release, but couldn’t have explained the need before hand. Software always has a push-pull relationship with the user. However, this means that many organizations may only ever use 30% ( or other random number) of the features in a given application set. Of course, there is the possibility in the new future that such application sets will be ‘on-demand’ through a web service type environment, as is the way our software is delivered. Thus you only have access to the features you need at that time. But that gives a whole new set of management headaches too.
Either way the IT industry has many revolutions and evolutions to undergo, so be sure you understand what truly drives value and differentiates your organization before contemplating major systems investments.