Return On Information

April 14, 2010 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

Rather than thinking about communication, collaboration and KM software in terms of Return on Investment, isn't the real goal to achieve Return On Information?

ROI (in the context of Return on Investment) comes up routinely on this blog and internet wide but I think considering the issue as one of return on information points to the real value sought.

When you think about return on investment, you think about how time is saved or resources are used better for monetary return. When there is not a direct line between action and revenue, as is often the case with knowledge activities, you work hard to identify marginal time savings through less face to face meetings or to quantify the value of insight and team work.

When thinking about return on information, you can consider tactical benefits:

- How easily can I conduct conversations?

- In what ways can we leverage pages in multiple contexts, rather than lose or simply stash and forget knowledge?

- In what ways can information be followed proactively or retrieved reactively?

- What different ways can pages be rendered into cross-sections which may be useful in a status or issue review?

- If the point of wiki is documentation, how can we view pages on a screen and output them to useful formats like email, word or PDF?

You can also consider strategic benefits:

- What benefits are found by opening up lines of communication from "need to know" to "can know" permission boundaries? These benefits may be expressed in terms of value found by connecting people faster or of value found by involving key people who can offer immeasurable value but may not be directly involved in a given team's communication swirl.

- In what ways does journaling raw information (meeting notes, call notes, ideas, issues) support future analysis and insight?

When I did a simple web search on return on information I found only a few relevant references, including one about enterprise search - which may enhance the ability to discover information but does not offer the tactical scenarios for further enrichment of it. While ROI hasn't been at the top of many RFPs I've received lately, I am hoping future RFPs will focus more on information leverage than typical questions about presence of certain features.

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