Old ROI Methods Are Holding Back The Adoption Of New Technology

My colleagues at Forrester and I have been puzzling over the discrepancy between the wealth of attractive new mobile, cloud, and smart computing technologies in the market, and the relatively weak record of actual growth in tech spending that our tech market forecasting numbers show.  Certainly, the recessions in Europe and weak economies in the US, Japan, China, India, Brazil and other emerging markets explain part of the weakness in tech buying.  In addition, cloud computing’s impact on the timing of tech spending (reducing initial upfront capital purchases of owned hardware and software while increasing future subscription payments for use of these resources) means that  spending that in the past would have occurred in current years has now been pushed into the future.  Lastly, as a recent Economist article pointed out, business investment in general has been low compared to GDP and to cash distributed to shareholders this decade, as CEOs with stock option compensation have focused on meeting quarterly earnings-per-share targets instead of investing for the longer term (see Buttonwood, “The Profits Prophet,” The Economist, October 5, 2013). Still, even taking these factors into account, tech investment has been growing more slowly relative to economic activity than in past cycles of tech innovation and growth.

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