Bill Gates on Nick Carr’s “Why IT Doesn’t Matter”

From a trip report by a Microsoft intern who recently spent some time hanging in Bill Gates’ house:

I personally asked him about his opinion of Nicholas Carr’s prediction surrounding the commoditization of information technology.  His response (verbatim, might I add), “well it was the dumbest thing I’ve ever read!” 

While I’m not surprised Bill said the preceding, and it is a typical response from industry sorts, I think Carr is being willfully misinterpreted. Yes, a naive reading of his headline suggests Carr is arguing that IT doesn’t matter and therefore you should throw the stuff out. But that is not what he is really saying if you read the HBR piece.

Instead, Carr is arguing that IT doesn’t matter in the sense that it is rare and unlikely to obtain meaningful competitive advantage from IT — the FedExes, Wal-Marts, and Dells of this world are unique in gaining advantage from IT. Letting their experience drive you as a F500 company to up your IT expenditures in pursuit of meaningful advantage is, Carr rightly argues, dangerous tactics indeed.


  1. Fred Boness says:

    Bill Gates has no sense for the irony of a statement that echos Digital Equipments’ Ken Olsen – “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”