Magazine article New Zealand Management

How IT Pays. (Opinion Leaders)

Magazine article New Zealand Management

How IT Pays. (Opinion Leaders)

Article excerpt

Many technology vendors are squeaking because their customers have delayed, or even stopped, buying technology. As one US storage vendor wrote in its recent third quarter financial results: "Most large corporations continue to delay major IT projects, generally limiting their purchases to deployments that provide a rapid return on their investment."

While the pain of the current technology `downturn' is not as acutely felt in this part of the world an element of tightfistedness prevails, nevertheless. I personally know a number of IT managers within large organisations who have to really fight to get approval for fundamental IT purchases.

High profile failures, like apparel maker Nike's implementation of a supply chain planning system--which caused product shortages and an earnings warning--have not helped. Nor has the traditional view of the IT business case, which is fixated on cost savings and cost-of-ownership rather than the effect of IT investments on the bottom line.

Language is another problem. Some IT professionals are not familiar with the "language of finance" and do not properly articulate the real value of their proposed solutions in terms of C-level objectives.

The only question that needs answering is: how will technology investment help improve the company's overall financial performance?

The key is demonstrating return on investment, as without a competitive return it is difficult for an organisation to attract the funds necessary to maintain existing business and provide for future growth.

The bad news is that the business benefits of technology investment often are presented only from a "lower operating costs" perspective. What's more, the benefits identified are often unrealistic and too optimistic for the timeframe in which they are expected to accrue. The result: The CFO is left with an incomplete view of the solution's potential impact on overall financial performance.

Preparing a business case for IT must identify the impact of IT investment on the three business drivers of growth, profitability and capital utilisation--the need for speed.

Growth: The impacts of IT on revenue growth are varied and can be thought of both in terms of existing business and new business. The existing business growth enablers deal with increasing revenue growth for existing products and services. The impact of implementing new technology, such as supply chain planning, can grow revenue by providing better forecasting and therefore lower stock-out losses. Supply chain software can also help companies enter into new businesses through improved speed-to-market, `speed', and cost management. …

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