Dabbling with ICT: Lessons from businesses

Establishing the relationship between development and ICT has never been easy. This was precisely the situation in businesses a few years ago. It wasn’t easy either for businesses to see value in using ICT for growth. It took time and understanding of the nuances before it got established that ICT can clearly offer strategic advantages to businesses.

Enterprise Resource Planning, Supply Chain Management, Customer Relationship Management, Knowledge Management, Data warehousing /Data mining, e-Commerce etc., which have now become part and parcel of doing business – were never heard of before. These and other such concepts, which are made feasible by ICT, have offered clear paybacks to the companies of the modern world. The demands of the ‘flat world’ are hard to cope with without embracing ICT.

However, the concept of – the impact of ICT on development – has to fight many tough battles still. The situation gravitates further due to a valid question on the importance of the basic necessities such as food, water, shelter etc., versus ICT. In response to this, practitioners have resorted to ‘prioritization’ as a way out. The similarities between this dilemma and those faced by the businesses a few years ago are hard to ignore.

Today – after various phases of evolution – when the businesses stand victorious, the lessons learnt too are hard to ignore.

Eventually, the development sector will learn from the businesses. The approach, ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’, wouldn’t work in this case. The lessons have been learnt the hard way of the inadequacy of measuring Returns on Investment (ROI) in cases of ICT investments (/spending!). Also, on the other side of the spectrum, the valuation for companies in the ICT industry has remained – a not so exact science.

This thing is different! Maybe, the challenge here is to manage what you can’t measure!

Categorized: ICT4D

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