Is IT Infrastructure Strategic?

No – I am not going to revisit the whole debate triggered by Nicholas G. Carr in his paper “Does IT Matter” I am however going to think through what makes organisations resource strategic and see how this fit’s in my mind with what IT Infrastructure is and what it enables.

The first interesting question is “what kind or resource is IT Infrastructure”?Most organisations will have physical, financial, human, intellectual and reputational resources. So where in this asset landscape does IT and more specifically IT Infrastructure fit?

The second question is “what makes a resource strategic”? According to Jay Barney (1991), resources to generate and sustain competitive advantage must exhibit the following 4 attributes:

  1. They must be valuable in the sense that they exploit opportunities or neutralises treats in an organisations environment
  2. They must be rare amongst an organisations current and potential competitors
  3. They must be difficult or impossible to intimate or create a perfect copy
  4. There cannot be strategically equivalent substitutes easily available

So using my interpretation of these 4 attributes it soon becomes apparent to me that IT Infrastructure itself is not strategic, instead the outcomes and changes that IT Infrastructure enable through innovation can be strategic.

My final question for you to consider is what percentage if the outcomes enabled your IT Infrastructure are strategic? or to put it another way, which IT Infrastructure initiatives are you investing in that enable outcomes which meet 3 out of the 4 strategic resource attributes as defined by Jay Barney?

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