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E-learning and e-business integration yields returns, survey claims

E-learning and e-business integration projects have delivered the best return on investment for companies this year, while customer relationship management (CRM), content management and e-marketplace efforts have fallen short.

That's the assessment of "thousands" of ROI studies conducted by Nucleus Research on behalf of clients such as Aetna, Pfizer, BT and Lockheed Martin.

For instance, companies that implement e-learning systems for a "modest" five- or six-figure investment typically save money in reduced travel costs, human resources overheads, regulatory compliance and customer support costs. Those kinds of paybacks recently helped two Nucleus customers generate 2,000% returns on their investments, said Ian Campbell, Nucleus co-founder and principal analyst.

E-business integration platforms such as Microsoft BizTalk Server and BEA WebLogic Integration have helped companies exploit existing investments in their IT infrastructures, both through internal and business-to-business integration, said Campbell.

Many of the returns result from streamlining the flow of data between applications and accessing a broader set of data. That has helped improve corporate performance and generate new revenue streams, according to the Nucleus assessment.

On the other end of the scale, CRM projects typically fall short of ROI projections since companies typically "overbuy" the amount of applications they need, said Campbell. And, because CRM engagements are usually multiyear projects, the business requirements at the beginning of the cycle often change by the time the software is implemented, Campbell added.

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