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Commoditized IT? Don't Believe It!

Complexity Rules

It's true that throughout the 1990s, many IT organizations focused too much on the "T" and not nearly enough on the "I." Repeating a practice from the mainframe-centric 1960s, IT managers often alienated their internal customers by making questionable strategic decisions and then executing poorly on system implementation and support.

As PCs and the Internet hit the mainstream, the CIO's organizational peers began to think of IT as a commodity, and the once-respected technical experts were ridiculed. Management theorist Peter Drucker drew a parallel to printing-press technicians of the 18th century, whose societal status and compensation degraded as their technical expertise became more of a commodity. But this comparison failed to acknowledge that information technology was actually increasing in complexity--rapidly--with no end in sight.

Look around and you'll see a world of specialists. IT pros who have mastered the magic of storage technology often know little about mobile and wireless. In security, the disparity is even more pronounced, with intrusion-detection gurus pleading ignorant to the complexity of graded authentication services. Yes, the markets for notebook computers and Ethernet NICs have commoditized, but the rest of the industry still looks pretty damn complex.

Wireless Microcosm

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