In his article, Be What You Are Not, Carr (2004) presents his arguments in support of the need of flexibility among IT companies. According to him, the world of IT is rapidly changing and managers, investors, and entrepreneurs need not be rigid but to change as the IT changes. Carr continues to point out that many companies continue to use the internet by applying business strategies that are traditional where they just want to sustain their market advantage.
Many businesses continue to take a defensive position in the market in relation to the use of IT rather than to adjust as technology changes. If a certain company pioneers in the use of on-line services for its products and at first attracts many customers, management of such company thinks it will continue enjoying the same advantage for long and therefore, they put mechanisms to protect this. However, according to Carr, this amount to building castles in the air, which cannot work.
Within a very short, all the rival companies would have adopted the same technology in their services and within no time, they will have advanced the same technology thus leaving the company that came up with the idea lagging behind in the market. As the author argues, in the world of IT, there is nothing like sustainable advantage to the first mover in a certain technology. Every technique is easily replicated and investors will always run where there is large profit.
The author gives several examples of online companies such as Yahoo and American Online that have managed to sustain the advantage of first mover in the IT market, but according to him, those are exceptional cases. Indeed, those companies have also constantly adopted change to sustain their advantage in the market.
The field of IT is changing so fast and only entrepreneurs, managers, and investors who keep pace with these changes can reap the resultant benefits. As Wang (2010) puts it, every organization is in a race chasing the newest technology (p.63). I agree with Carr argument that, there is nothing like sustainable advantage for the first mover in the field of IT and companies must be always ready to be what they are not. Many companies in the recent past have lost their market share for failing to keep in pace with IT development.
Though at the beginning they were making huge profit by being the first mover in a certain technology, within a short span, their secrets are replicated by rival companies, and after sometime, they find themselves lagging in the market rather than leading. A good example of these companies is CDNow that was the first mover in selling CD over the internet. It made huge sales at the beginning and everybody thought it would continue reaping the same profits.
However, after a short period, Amazon came up with a technique to sell music on-line rather than the CD. Amazon also came up with other services such as online bookselling that strengthened its position in the market compared to CDNow (O’Brien & Shambora, 2009, p.52). Consequently, the market advantage of CDNow vanished within one night as Amazon took precedence in the market.
Rapid development in IT field does not allow companies to maintain sustainable advantage as Carr puts it in his article. I support his views that only companies that will keep in pace with the new development will enjoy a good market share. Businesses need to move to what they are not in terms of IT rather than trying to protect what they already have.
Carr, N. G. (2004). Be what you are not. Retrieved from:
O’Brien, J., & Shambora, J. (2009). Amazon’s next revolution. Fortune International (Asia), 159 (11), 52-58.
Wang, P. (2010). Chasing the hottest it: effects of information technology fashion on organizations. MIS Quarterly, 34(1), 63-85.