Thursday, January 7, 2016

Expertise As Well as Equipment Needed for Productivity

Shahiduzzaman, Kowalkiewicz, Barret and Briggs conclude their analysis of the productivity of IT in Australia by saying: "... IT investment is not enough to make a positive
change to Australia’s economic performance. Knowing how to efficiently and effectively use IT capital requires the development of organisational, managerial and individual capabilities.". The authors seem to have misunderstood what IT is: it is not just computers and telecommunications equipment, IT also encompasses the skills in applying this to business and human aspects of making use of that equipment. IT professionals spend much of their time working out what the businesses does and how it can do it better with IT.

Many executives make the mistake of thinking they can simply buy IT from someone and then apply it to their business. But it is that application which is the hard bit. Computing students also tend to make this mistake: they will design what they think is the perfect computer program and are surprised when they see it does not work in practice, because people do not behave the way they expected.

One field where the productivity of IT is hotly debated is education. A question often asked is: "Students have laptops, tablets and smart phones, so why aren't they learning better?". Chen, Seilhamer, Bennett and Bauer (2015) conclude that "... students and instructors need technical, logistical, and pedagogical support for integrating mobile devices and apps." It may seem obvious that just giving students computers will not make them educationally useful, but it is a lesson the education system (and governments funding it) have to keep learning. Similarly CEOs and, worryingly, CIOs seem to forget they need skilled IT professionals for IT to be productive.


Chen, B., Seilhamer, R., Bennett, L. & Bauer, S. (June 2015). Students' Mobile Learning Practices in Higher Education: A Multi-Year Study. EduCause. Retrieved from


Shahiduzzaman, M., Kowalkiewicz, M., Barret, R., & Briggs, A. (December 2015). Technology investment is not enough: Growing Australia's productive digital economy. Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane Australia.

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