Over 10 years ago, Nick Carr wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review with the title, “IT Doesn’t Matter.” As you might expect, an article with a title like that generated a significant amount of controversy. CEOs from leading technology companies and other writers at the time panned Carr’s premise in a way that, in retrospect, seems a bit overly defensive.
His point, after all, was not that IT was not unimportant; rather, IT (as vaguely defined in the article) was so ubiquitous that it was no longer a competitive advantage. Rather, it was what companies did with their IT technologies that provided competitive advantage. It’s also worth noting that his (seemingly) intentionally vague definition appeared to focus on the generic notion of IT as PCs, servers and things that had become commonplace at the time.
This has been a common pattern throughout the history of technology: Early adopters enjoy a competitive advantage, but only as long as the technology they’ve adopted remains scarcely used. Any advantage goes away when the technology becomes ubiquitous. The technology remains important—even critical—to a business’ operations, but it’s hardly an advantage when everyone else has the similar technology.
Carr’s article uses the example of electricity: In the late 19th century, when electricity was an emerging and scarce technology, factories that were able to leverage electricity for their manufacturing efforts held a significant advantage. Today, no factory can operate without electricity, yet it’s hardly considered a strategic asset.
Today in the 21st century, we’re seeing a similar trend repeated, but on much compressed time scale. Providing free Wi-Fi was once a lure for customers of restaurants, coffee shops and the like, but today it’s essentially table stakes. Likewise, leveraging clouds was once a competitive advantage, but with more than 90 percent of companies using some form of public or private clouds, one would be hard-pressed to argue that cloud usage alone provides any significant advantage. However, how you use these clouds can, in fact, become a competitive advantage. CA offers a variety of tools to help you manage, secure and accelerate your use of clouds.
It’s an important lesson to learn: In the application economy, early adopters enjoy an important—yet relatively short-lived— competitive advantage. Knowing when to jump on an emerging technology can be the difference between surviving and thriving.
Today, there are several technologies that are on the cusp and moving quickly to adopt them can provide a significant competitive advantage. The ability to deliver software continuously—while not exactly a single technology—is on this cusp. Continuous delivery is a core component of a successful DevOps implementation, and means essentially what it sounds like: the ability to deliver software from planning to production in a near constant and continuous fashion. Achieving true continuous delivery means you must test continuously, develop continuously and release continuously.
Continuous delivery is not easy to achieve, but for those who do the advantage is significant. Companies implementing continuous delivery can get to market 20x faster with 98 percent fewer production errors. That’s a powerful benefit.
To learn more about CA’s portfolio of continuous delivery solutions—and hear directly from several customers—you can check out the replay of Jeff Scheaffer’s keynote presentation from CAWorld 2016.