Messaging ROI

* ROI analysis not best way to evaluate messaging

ROI analysis is an extremely useful tool when evaluating various business investments, particularly in evaluating competing options when resources are scarce. For example, to improve customer service, should you invest in more call center staff to reduce hold time, or should you invest in more chat or instant messaging functionality to accomplish the same goal?

When it comes to messaging ROI considerations, however, such as security or reliability, ROI is less meaningful and much harder to quantify in many cases. For example, should you invest in technology or services that will prevent messages from being bounced back to the sender in the event that your messaging servers are brought offline by a power failure, flood or some other disruption? The simple and intuitive answer is yes, but it’s a decision that does not fit well within the ROI paradigm.

Determining the value lost to your company when someone sends an e-mail that gets bounced is almost impossible to determine accurately – that loss might be zero in the event that the unsuccessful sender of the e-mail simply picks up the telephone to talk with the individual to whom they sent the e-mail, or it could represent the loss of thousands of dollars in sales if the sender is a new customer who assumes you’re no longer in business.

The same is true with security technologies. For example, if users receive more spam, they’re less productive because they’re spending more time filtering out junk from their inbox. However, because employers are not writing a check for that lost productivity (most information workers will simply stay longer each day or work from home to do their job), the actual productivity loss associated with spam is very difficult to quantify.

Another example, if you’re an e-mail manager for a large company, how much would you pay to keep the CEO off your back every time e-mail goes down? There’s an enormous benefit in not incurring the wrath of your CEO every time your messaging system hiccups, but it’s one that is very difficult to quantity through conventional ROI analysis.

In short, while ROI analysis is very useful in some cases, it cannot be applied to all aspects of messaging. There are some investments in messaging security, reliability, backup, emergency notification and other areas that need to be made without an ability to consider the quantifiable return on the investment made in these technologies.

I’d appreciate hearing your views on this – please drop me a line.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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