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The controversial May edition of the Harvard Business Review
(HBR), containing an article written by Nicholas Carr entitled IT Doesn't Matter , questioned the impact of IT investments. This has created a stir in the business and technology communities. One of the dissenters of Carrs article is PRISM Marketing , a small company based in Appleton which specializes in Outsourced Marketing Services and uses technology to impact the sales, marketing and business growth opportunities of its large, well-known clients.
The HBR article's premise and conclusions are basically flawed according to Victor Kteily, president of PRISM Marketing Services. According to Kteily, "smart companies invest in technology to address specific and measurable business issues and opportunities. The key is the application and use of the technology, not the technology in itself."
PRISM, an acronym for Productivity, Resources, Integration, Sales, and Marketing, is an entrepreneurial and innovative company providing database marketing and sales automation services to some of the largest technology and medical systems companies in the country. Since 1986 they have developed and implemented tactical marketing campaigns for many world-class Fortune 2000 companies, including Nortel Networks, Schneider National, Brocade Communications, Extreme Networks, Kodak Health Imaging and many others. Through the use of communications technology, information management and customized service models, PRISM Marketing helps clients make more effective and productive use of their limited resources.
PRISM recently began implementing its web-based Opportunity Management System
(OppMan) that uses database-marketing technology to capture detailed real-time information for its clients on potential sales opportunities. The system qualifies, distributes, tracks, updates, manages, and reports on the progress of those opportunities, helping to increase revenue growth, reduce sales costs, and minimize lost opportunities. Kteily stated that "the technology behind OppMan isn't rocket science, but customization and packaging for each PRISM client determines its inherent value and business applicability. This provides a unique offering from PRISM that is gaining widespread interest. Technology as a commodity still has a long way to go."
Carrs article states that information technology is nothing more than the foundation of modern business, similar to the internal combustion engine a technological advance that has become too common for any company to derive an advantage from it. "IT management," writes Carr, "should, frankly, become boring." He thinks that once-innovative technology becomes merely a necessary cost, similar to the life cycle of railroads and electrical utilities of the 1800s that evolved to provide commodity transportation and energy services. This conclusion has major ramifications on the technology sector; the business investment plans of many companies, and the evolution of IT as a whole.
Other dissenters of Carrs article, including Ralph Szygenda, CIO of GM, spoke for the necessity of IT in the business world. Szygenda wrote a response to HBR in which he says that companies are deploying information systems throughout their operations at only "the fifth-grade level." Charles Fitzgerald, Microsoft's general manager for platform strategy, stated "we have definitely hit an inflection point where suddenly the least expensive technologies are the most powerful ones like Intel's microprocessors." He added, "but the source of competitive advantage in business is what you do with the information that technology gives you access to. How do you apply that to some particular business problem?"
Jamie Hofmeister is a freelance technology writer and regular contributor to the Wisconsin Technology Network. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org