On the other hand, as highlighted in our Board meting4,IVK spend overall less on IT then its competitors. This historical gap resultedover time in (i) “pieced-together systems” that are difficult and costlyto maintain and upgrade, and (ii) the accumulation of security risks.

Respecting Carr’s 1st recommendation put some pressure on the followingones… and on the 1st recommendation itself.1)     Followon platforms, lead on flexibility – while Carr’s “Follow, don’t lead” applies perfectly to infrastructure,the IT has to better support IVK’s ability to innovate.The IT infrastructure of IVKis obsolete and currently being reengineered4. We need more power toallow scalability to future business growth, stability for avoiding disruptionsand for economically efficient maintenance.

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These requirements impose a provensolution and IVK would gain money and predictability by abiding to Carr’s 2ndrule on this investment. However, the infrastructure should also represent a platformflexible enough for future developments. 2)     Focuson risks, but be prepared to grab opportunities – as an IT in “strategic” mode, constant project costscrutinizing should be complemented by a very strict risk policy. Furthermore, weshould constantly monitor opportunities and use the platforms described aboveas “qualifiers” allowing us to “compete”4 whenever a good occasionis detected.As mentioned in the first two recommendations, theinternet technology we are using and our historical underinvestment expose IVKto security risks. Currently, CAPEX in the budget is allotted in large part torisks reduction: one third for Disaster Recovery Procedures and another 26% of forthe New Common Infrastructure. The internal and external specialist reviewsshould be complemented by the full deployment of the Disaster Recovery Centreand Procedures4.

Furthermore, we should make a policy out ofavoiding too high dependences on legacy applications, on vendors such as NetiFectsor on key IT people such as John Cho. Notwithstanding the importance of risk focus underlinedby Carr’s article, we consider that IT has still a lot of potential indifferentiating IVK from competition. We cite in support the internal exampleof successful functionalities built upon the ERP, but also the research of aHarvard and MIT team. In fact, McAfee and Brynjolfsson (2008) discovered that someof Carr’s assertions were correct (such as the short-lived advantages), but yetIT can make a difference: in IT-intensive sectors performance-spread amongcompetitors is higher than in other sectors and a few competitors gather mostof the market. “Winners can win big and fast, but not necessarily for very long”.

Accordingly, IVK cannot rest on its laurels and has to (i) identify opportunitiesin its own business model, (ii) constantly scan for innovation opportunities(IT, business units, crowd-sourcing, data analytics), (iii) testinnovative ideas in a safe and lower cost IT simulation environment and (iv) beprepared to develop and “propagate” throughout the enterprise once anopportunity is seized. Summing up, although we could extract some interestingideas out of Nicholas Carr’s article, the main inferences made by the author arenot accurate, and his recommendations would be seriously limiting our growth ambitions.So we think that It Does Matter … After all, how many ofthe last decade’s innovative business ideas were implemented without any helpfrom IT? 

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