By Joe Banks
An interesting statistic came out the other day off the back of the quarterly research published by e-Skills UK. The survey revealed that only 11% of companies put any kind of benchmark in place to measure the return on investment (ROI) of IT spending.
That’s a pretty shocking figure, but to be honest, it won’t come as much of a surprise to anybody involved in tech PR, particularly if you’ve ever tried to develop a customer story on behalf of a client. Pitching the story to a journalist as a potential case study, one of the first things any hack worth his salt will ask is something along the lines of “so, how much money/time has this amazing piece of technology actually saved them?” or “how exactly has this ‘improved productivity’ and ‘impacted positively on the company culture’?” These are perfectly fair questions, but often, the PR is at a loss as to how to answer them.
Of course, justifying tech spend to the media should be the least of an IT director’s worries – what about accountability to the FD/board, especially if the project has gone way over budget or has decidedly failed to deliver on promised benefits? Though on saying that, what about when those stories do get leaked to the papers – it’s usually a pretty uncomfortable experience for all involved. The irony is that projects usually get out of control exactly because definable ROI benchmarks haven’t been put in place.
The age of IT directors assessing the success (or otherwise) of a new IT implementation through the application of ‘informed guesswork’ or ‘personal intuition’ surely needs to come to an end. And while the humble PR agency may not have a great deal of influence in changing a nation’s business culture, we can at least keep on pushing our clients to encourage their customers to quantifiably measure the impact of new installations. It’d certainly make those case studies a damn sight easier to sell in…