What are the benefits that we are seeking? Can we even anticipate them properly at an early stage in the investment analysis cycle? Will the benefits be evidenced through business performance improvement? How are the actions of managers and functional departments currently judged? By financial measures? Sales statistics? Transaction volumes? This complex area needs to be understood and effectively managed if we are to all work to a common end, but is there a single point of responsibility for the delivery of business benefits? As may be judged from all these questions, the management of business benefits from information technology investments is not well understood.
Chae, H.-C., Koh, C.E. & Prybutok, V.R. (2014) Information technology capability and firm performance: contradictory findings and their possible causes. MIS Quarterly, 38 (1), pp.305–326.
Ho-Chang Chae and colleagues have blown a huge hole in the presumption that IT capability guarantees improved firm performance. Contradicting previous research, and reviewing data from over 15 years, they find that the financial performance of a large number of businesses does not relate to IT capability. This result has to be seen in light of the emergence of web-based systems, and enterprise-wide systems, many of which obviate the need for internal IT systems development. 2001 seems to be the year when this change in the relationship between performance and IT capability became evident. In their concluding remarks they note that “the standardization and homogenization of IT systems, fuelled by the constantly declining cost of computing, have significantly lowered the barrier of entry to those competitors who couldn’t afford advanced IT systems in the past.”