“Asking for a direct tie-in between increased funding for computers and a commitment to deliver provable savings is an invitation to prepare figmental projections that demean both those who produce them as well as those that accept them.” So wrote the IT economist Paul Strassmann back in the 1990s.
As Information Age recently pointed out, however, that has not prevented many IT suppliers from trying to underline their sales story with so called ‘automatic ROI calculators’ – many of which are freely available on web sites. By typing the term ‘ROI calculator’ on Google.com, we returned 94,200 hits.
Now, the backlash. In meetings with a string of executives in recent weeks, several volunteered the fact that they did not use ROI calculators. “There is no calculator for ROI. Our sales guys don’t walk around with a calculator for business process management,” said Robert Farrell, CEO of Metastorm, laughing. “No, we don’t have a calculator,” said Dave Hoyle, CEO of ObjectStar, the supplier of business process integration software.
Others that did have calculators, meanwhile, have gone quiet. Said one software marketing executive: “Customers got their FDs to go through the figures. After that had happened a couple of times, we decided it was best not bring it out.” Now, he says, it is easier to just let them try out the software for free.