How’s this for an interesting perspective…
When I spoke at IDC’s CIO Conference in Milan last May, one of the other speakers was Nicholas (IT Doesn’t Matter) Carr, who presented his controversial vision of the impact of IT commoditization. Later that morning, Renzo Passera, the CIO of Italcementi, the $6B+ international cement manufacturer offered the following reaction to Mr. Carr’s presentation (I’m paraphrasing):
Since my company makes cement, believe me: I know what a commodity is. One of my frustrations as a CIO is that IT – particularly software – has such inconsistent quality. So many bugs, patches, poor documentation, on and on. One of the hallmarks of a real commodity is that you always know exactly what you’re getting – specs are well-defined, and delivery to spec is the rule or you’re out of business. IT has a long way to go before it is even worthy of being labelled a commodity.
OK, we can all agree that software is more complicated than concrete. But I’d say Renzo is more on the mark than not. We have a long way to go before software is a true commodity in the best sense. An interesting question is: how will two important megatrends – open source development models and composite applications – impact our ability to get there?