Communication Technology and Success
Companies have invested increasingly in communication technology since the early 1990s. In 1991, America’s service sector companies spent over $100 billion on hardware, equal to more than $12000 per information worker (Roach, 1991). Assuming that companies spend their resources wisely, it is tempting to conclude that higher expenditure on communication technology will increase a firm’s overall performance. Yet many authors claim that the benefits of these new technologies are at best disappointing (Loveman, 1988; Mahmood and Mann, 1993). Communication technology has failed to yield significant gains in productivity – known as the productivity paradox (Pinsonneault and Rivard, 1998).
If investment into communication technology has not increased the value produced, management must rethink communication technology strategies. This has put managers responsible for determining the level of communication technology expenditure in a difficult position. While communication technology is viewed intuitively as an important asset, managers do not know how to measure its impact, how to decide on the area in which to invest in it, or even how much to invest into it.
As a result, measuring the success of communication technology within organizations is a topic of central concern for both academics and practitioners. Academics need a measure for communication technology success as the dependent variable, and managers need to make decisions about the potential of communication technology investments. Without the evaluation of communication technology outcomes, this new and rapidly-deployed technology tool may either be over- or under-valued. Over-valuing communication technology may lead to investments into it that are not warranted, but under-valuing communication technology may mean that organizations are left behind their competitors. Thus performance criteria are necessary to allow managers to make informed decisions regarding the acquisition and design of communication technology within their organizations.
Success is often regarded as an absolute, something that either is or is not. In fact, success and failure are relative matters, and can only be evaluated according to specific criteria and measures. Something that seems successful from one