The competitive impact of information technology: Can commodity IT contribute to competitive performance?

Gabriele Piccoli*, Tsz Wai Lui

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Despite polarizing arguments on the strategic potential of information technology (IT), academic research has yet to demonstrate clearly that information systems initiatives can lead to sustained competitive performance (CP). We investigate this question using data from 165 hotels affiliated with two brands of an international lodging chain. We study the effect of successful use and unreliability of an incremental IT-enabled self-service channel on overall CP. We find that the effect of the incremental service channel depends on the firm's organizational resources. We also show that different organizations experience significantly different use and unreliability rates. Further, we find that the positive association between the use of an IT-enabled self-service channel and CP endures over a 2-year period, despite competitors' widespread adoption of the technology enabling the incremental service channel (self-service kiosks). Our findings corroborate research on the strategic role of IT resources when appropriately coupled with complementary resources. They lead us to question the notion that IT is a strategic commodity. Indeed, the findings suggest that IT-dependent strategic initiatives have the potential to generate sustained CP, even when the technology that enables them appears 'simple'. These findings suggest the need for a theoretical explanation of the complementarities and interaction among the elements of IT-dependent strategic initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-628
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Information Systems
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Nov 5
Externally publishedYes


  • IT-dependent strategic initiatives
  • competitive advantage
  • strategic agility
  • strategic information systems
  • sustainable competitive advantage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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