The ROI Is Dead; Long Live the ROI

One of the people in this month's cover story on electronic commerce says state IS executives have not yet been able to make the case for electronic commerce. It's true, states are in an early-even primitive-stage in developing EC, where the hurdles to setting up electronic trading systems among states, businesses and citizens seem overwhelming.

And there are plenty of hurdles to overcome. Most state legal systems today do not even sanction electronic authorizations. There is also no agreement on the best technology and systems for ensuring secure electronic commercial transactions. Even in the private sector, there do not seem to be enough EC-ready players to make the case for setting up systems on the public-sector side.

In such an environment, it's tough to make the case to state or city budget committees that there would be a positive return on investment for funding EC research and development. Even the cost side of the value equation is murky. Many systems planners might be asking, "Where do we start?" or "What technology should we buy?"

Under the circumstances, maybe a different value proposition is called for, one that emphasizes potential return on initiative. As our story points out, there are plenty of EC pilots under way in state government, resulting in a number of success stories. And in this market, a success story in one state can lead to dramatic cost savings in another. For example, when Utah passed its digital signature law, Georgia was quick to examine the lessons learned. According to a task force report on electronic commerce by the National Association of State Information Resource Executives and the Information Technology Association of America, the trading and replication of such success stories are important accelerators of state EC deployment.

There are a number of other success stories explored in this issue of, including how states are grappling with the Year 2000 date change problem, how states are trying to produce value by forming buying networks, and how one small Washington county cut its maintenance costs dramatically by converting to a client/server IT architecture. We have also added a section,\marketplace, where we showcase commercial products now being used in the marketplace. We hope these examples help you increase your IT returns.

Paul McCloskey



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