Opinion: Spread(sheet)ing the news

The wave of ROI fanaticism sweeping the globe has made IT executives the sinners in a cult that elevates CFOs to the lofty sphere of saints. If the bean counters are going to save my soul then I choose to burn in the fires of hell and I invite IT executives to join me in my damnation.

Company meetings are more like sermons these days with CFOs preaching from the boardroom pulpit the evils of IT investment without ROI.

According to the bible of this new dogma, IT executives lack business nous and are clueless when it comes to measuring ROI.

God forbid an IT executive who has a vision that cannot be reduced to a financial spreadsheet.

Like a wayward child unwilling to blindly follow this new path of redemption being led by CFOs and vendors, I am not convinced the success of an IT project can be determined by a calculator.

If we really want to seek out the truth let's take a moment, look to the heavens and ask: "Where does the value lie?"

Greed has always been a business driver, so the latest "scientific" business theory to spruik tangible, measurable ROI is sure to be one of those "temptations" most likely to seduce a boardroom.

Being a cost zealot is not suited to a visionary; in the aftermath of the tech wreck full responsibility for its clean-up has landed on IT, but there is no budget to innovate.

According to Forrester Research, CEOs need to champion and invest in at least one project a year where the ROI is not cast in stone.

The CEO should also encourage the use of non-ROI performance indicators like increased customer satisfaction - now there's a revolutionary idea.

Finally, Forrester points out that boardrooms need to "realise some of the benefits to IT only come with hindsight". Blasphemy I know, but IT executives claim dutiful attention to ROI is dependent on the economic climate. For example, when times are tough the focus is on savings. But when conditions are good, the customer is king. Hypocritical? Never, just good business sense and so insightfully consistent.

A cult deprogramming regime for CFOs may be a bit drastic, but a vision of IT budgets that allows for IT innovation should not be akin to a miracle.

Either we all join hands in the boardroom and pray, or face the ROI devil and be damned! I know where I'm going, what about you - heaven or hell?

E-mail Sandra_Rossi@idg.com.au.

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