Managing Investment in Information Technology: Mini Case Examples and Implications

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While businesses are investing enormous resources in information technology (IT), there is little evidence linking IT investment to organizational performance. The purpose of this article, therefore, is to increase understanding of the basis for IT investment in firms. Six mini case studies of companies in five different industries address questions of how they define IT for the purpose of determining the level of investment, how they track IT investments, and what other factors influence IT investment decisions. Each organization uses a different definition of IT, but there appears to be an overall trend to broaden the definition. Although companies track IT investment with varying degrees of rigor, they appear to be generally moving toward centralized tracking of all IT investment. Political considerations are important and significantly impact investment decisions. In all cases, the effectiveness with which IT investment is converted to useful output is acknowledged to be affected by the implementation process, the culture of the organization, and the skill of management. Three major implications for practitioners responsible for IT investment are the need to adopt a broad definition of IT and track it over time against a convenient base; the need to separate different types of investment and match them to appropriate organizational performance measures; and the need to take into account factors such as management commitment and previous experience with IT. The latter impacts the effectiveness with which the firm converts its investment into useful outputs.
Additional Details
Author Peter Weill and Margrethe H. Olson
Year 1989
Volume 13
Issue 1
Keywords Information technology investment, organizational performance, cost-benefit analysis, information technology strategy
Page Numbers 3-17
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