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ROI And The Business Value Of Information Architecture
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ROI And The Business Value Of Information Architecture


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The information architecture community thinks business leaders want proof of ROI. But they don't. Firstly, the IA doesn't use the term correctly. Secondly, the business world is looking for …

The information architecture community thinks business leaders want proof of ROI. But they don't. Firstly, the IA doesn't use the term correctly. Secondly, the business world is looking for trustworthy partners, not MBAs.

Published in: Design, Technology, Business
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  • This is a refreshing take on the topic of the value of usability - and the meaning of value. Wish I could have heard the actual presentation.
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  • 1. ROI and the business value of IA Eric Reiss 10th Annual IA Summit March 20, 2009 Memphis, Tennessee
  • 2. “Nowadays, people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Oscar Wilde
  • 3. Does anyone here doubt the value of IA ?
  • 4. What do we do ? Here are the conclusions of 400 IAs
  • 5. Information architecture Model ver. 0.01 (synthesis of ~900 terms, 8 April 2000) Information Technology Standards •Navigate •Design •Search •Implement •Browse •Structure •Evaluate •Tag/index IA Goals •Meet user-needs User •Mediation Information •Usability Architect •Create •Added value •Analysis •Own •Model Policies •Edit •Classify Disciplines •Manage •Evaluate Information
  • 6. Clients know what they want But we know what they need
  • 7. Clients know what they want But we know what they need This is the fatal disconnect
  • 8. I want a better website.
  • 9. Accessibility Mental models Personas Searchability Knowledge Usability management I want a better website. Sensemaking Findability ScenariaExperience design Information architecture Storytelling Content management Thesauri User-centered design
  • 10. I want a better website. Information architecture
  • 11. „Es hört jeder doch nur, was er versteht.“ Goethe
  • 12. „Es hört jeder doch nur, was er versteht.“ Goethe
  • 13. „Es hört jeder doch nur, “He hears only that was erhe understands” which versteht.“ Goethe
  • 14. “We believe [IA] is important. But we don't have scientific proof. This places us in the role of quasi-religious missionaries, desperately striving to convince the masses of the righteousness of our vision.” Peter Morville
  • 15. So, we invent models and methods...
  • 16. We collect thrilling statistics... And worship ROI.
  • 17. Right tool Wrong use
  • 18. R eturn OI n nvestment “If you hire me, you’ll probably get your money back.”
  • 19. We talk about it. But do we use the term correctly?
  • 20. Benefits - Costs ROI = Costs “The gains outweighed the costs.”
  • 21. 500 – 200 1.5 = 200 “It provided a 150% return.”
  • 22. Net income ROI = Book value of assets
  • 23. “Because the numerator (net income) is an unreliable corporate performance measurement, the outcome of the formula ROI must also be unreliable to determine success or corporate value.”
  • 24. Net income + interest (1 - tax rate) ROI = Book value of assets Source: Steven M. Bragg, Business Ratios and Formulas
  • 25. “Return on Investment is based on historic data. It is a backward-looking metric that yields no insights into how to improve business results in the future.”
  • 26. “In terms of gross averages, I estimate that spending about 10% of a project's budget on usability activities doubles usability. ” Jakob Nielsen
  • 27. Cost of investment PP = Cash flow per year “It paid for itself in three months.”
  • 28. OPEX + CAPEX TCO = Duration of project “It costs us USD 100 per month.”
  • 29. “He hears only that which he understands” Goethe
  • 30. “If they had wanted an MBA they would have hired an MBA.” Dan Saffer
  • 31. Cost of frustration Increased expenses Lost profits Reduced productivity Wasted development resources Source: Jared Spool
  • 32. Cost of frustration for Amtrak Average reservation $ 220 Reservations per month x 40,000 Potential income per month $ 8,800,000 Incomplete reservations 75% Potential loss per month $ 6,600,000 Recapture through usability 20% Potential gain per month $ 1,320,000 Potential gain per year $ 15,840,000 Source: Jared Spool
  • 33. “I want to book a trip.”
  • 34. “I can’t figure this out.”
  • 35. “I guess I’ll say home.”
  • 36. USD 16,000,000 per year...? 0 a l : 80 Verb : 480 Math
  • 37. “Why did you send me this article? You guys are too smart to actually believe this bullshit.” E-mail from a client
  • 38. We are not alone ...
  • 39. Adlib Software ROI calculation for the life-science industry (eCTD)
  • 40. “ROI doesn’t enter into this calculation. eCTD is not a nice-to-have, it is a NEED-to-have. And the submissions – how do you count these? Per product? Per country? New submission? Repeat submission? This is a vendor who really doesn’t understand our business.” A regulatory affairs officer
  • 41. Cost of not finding information Number of Employees x Average salary x Average number of pages and sites visited per day per person x Several seconds of confusion each visit due to bad IA The cost of not implementing a cohesive information architecture Source: Jakob Nielsen / Peter Morville
  • 42. Cost of poor usability Number of users x Average salary x Average number of application visits per day per person x Number of seconds of confusion each visit due to poor usability The cost of ignoring usability in on-line applications Source: Nielsen / Morville / Reiss (ed.)
  • 43. Cost of “Chip Dankort” Number of supermarket checkout lines 7 x Average salary 2 Dkr/min x Average number transactions each day 1890 x Number of seconds waiting for chip 5 The cost of new 315 Dkr “Chip Dankort” Source: Eric Reiss
  • 44. 315 Dkr = 2.6 hours!
  • 45. “Sometimes a cracker is worth more than a handful of crumbs.” Me (in reference to granularity on the web)
  • 46. ROI ≠ sale
  • 47. Doing the math for Sterling Loss EUR 200,000 per month Cost EUR 17,181 PP 2.57 days
  • 48. “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Warren Buffett
  • 49. Perceived benefit Value = Price “I think it’s worth the price.”
  • 50. Value ≠ ROI
  • 51. ROI ≠ sale
  • 52. Value ≠ sale
  • 53. Every service represents “value” This is a given - and “givens” are not competitive positions
  • 54. We are selling a very strange service…
  • 55. ”Are these guys crazy ?” ”Let us move your stuff around and we’ll make it more valuable.”
  • 56. Value is subjective Value is emotional
  • 57. Have you hugged your sitemap today? Home page Search Contact About us Sales Products History Dealer addresses Red products Mission Green products Data sheet Blue products
  • 58. “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country” Alfred P. Sloan
  • 59. So, it’s not just about the value of information architecture. Is it about the potential value of information?
  • 60. Action Wisdom Understanding Knowledge Information Data
  • 61. “There are two levers to set a man in motion: fear and self-interest.” Napoleon
  • 62. If you don’t learn faster than your competition, you will ultimately fail. Information Architecture gives you a sustainable competitive advantage.
  • 63. In declining markets, only the popular companies survive. IA is the key to providing superior online service.
  • 64. OK. It’s not only about the potential value of information. So, what is it?
  • 65. “Appeal to reason and you may have no appeal at all.” Harry Beckwith
  • 66. Reassurance Comfort = Worry “These folks will keep me out of hot water.” “These folks are my friends.”
  • 67. Source:
  • 68. Some simple words of wisdom Make your clients feel comfortable. Make your clients look smart. Don’t sell to focus groups. Sell to the guy on the other side of the table. Don’t sell a service. Sell a relationship. Be professional. More importantly, be personable. Source: Harry Beckwith / Eric Reiss
  • 69. So what is an information architect ? An instrument of social change!
  • 70. communication
  • 71. Our time has come
  • 72. Thanks!
  • 73. Eric Reiss can (usually) be found at: The FatDUX Group ApS Strandøre 15 2100 Copenhagen Denmark Office: (+45) 39 29 67 77 Mobil: (+45) 20 12 88 44 Twitter: elreiss