Survey: Portal spending set to soar

Sales of enterprise portals is set to reach $4bn by 2005, but firms may need to rethink how they measure returns on investment Analyst firm Butler Group has forecast that sales of enterprise portal products will grow dramatically, reaching $4bn worldwide by 2005. But it added that companies may need to change the way they measure return on investment (ROI) when judging the value of technology such as portals.

Sales of enterprise portals is set to reach $4bn by 2005, but firms may need to rethink how they measure returns on investment

Analyst firm Butler Group has forecast that sales of enterprise portal products will grow dramatically, reaching $4bn worldwide by 2005. But it added that companies may need to change the way they measure return on investment (ROI) when judging the value of technology such as portals.

Butler Group reported that firms are increasing their portal deployment, despite slowing spending on other items of IT. But director of methods research Jacques Halé advised firms to reconsider the way they judge ROI for technology investments.

Speaking on the eve of last week's Butler Group corporate portal symposium, Halé said firms should consider the intangible benefits portal solutions can offer, rather than trying to assess financial returns alone. "Investment in IT doesn't directly affect the bottom line," said Halé. "If the full potential of the portal is to be realised, IT managers must be able to measure information productivity."

Simon Atkinson, managing director of portal infrastructure software provider Verity GB, said, "Like a lot of IT applications, there are intangible benefits that are hard to measure, but if firms delve deep enough, they will find some tangible ones as well." For example, he suggested, the amount of time saved when searching for information could increase employee productivity.

Atkinson added that Verity is seeing a lot of interest in portal solutions, and companies are still willing to spend on the software. However, boards are demanding more stringent justifications of investments due to current budget constraints, and deals are generally taking longer to go through.