It is challenging at best to document the ROI of a knowledge management (KM) system for market and competitive intelligence. Former Forrester analyst Cinny Little, speaking at a Northern Light online customer summit last fall, told attendees that since competitive intelligence professionals enable business decisions, rather than the results of the decisions, “We have to get creative and determine what we contributed that enabled someone to make that decision.”
It’s not a simple calculation. Yet several Northern Light clients have done careful assessments of the savings and other benefits of having a research portal. Our conclusion is that the typical SinglePoint portal pays for itself 10 to 20 times per year. We are basing the calculation on actual metrics reported by our clients that have studied the economic effects of a centralized knowledge management portal for licensed market research, primary market research, business news, and other important content sets.
Northern Light’s clients have experienced quantifiable savings in several areas that are well worth considering when the time comes to review the financial case for a market and competitive intelligence portal:
- Value of time saved. One major telecommunications client estimated that its SinglePoint knowledge management system saved 1.5 hours per user session. This is based on the alternative to a centralized market research portal that existed prior to SinglePoint.
- Consolidated purchasing of information. Duplicated and underutilized information subscription contracts are the norm in many large organizations. SinglePoint makes consolidated licensing and enterprise-wide sharing of purchased content a practical goal. One global information technology vendor estimated that its SinglePoint portal saved them $1.25 million per year in avoiding duplicate research purchases in their operations around the world.
- Primary research savings. Primary market research projects are expensive undertakings. SinglePoint can consolidate primary research into a single repository and make it available to authorized users throughout an organization. This can eliminate the need for duplicate primary research, saving substantial amounts of money and increasing the impact of primary research that has been performed. One Northern Light client has estimated that its SinglePoint portal saves the client 10% in its annual primary research budget in avoided new research projects.
- Reduced number of websites/portals. One global information technology vendor greatly reduced the cost of providing research internally when their SinglePoint implementation permitted the consolidation of 150 distinct intranet sites hosting or accessing research in divisions around the world down into just one site. On the IT side alone, they estimated that they saved $1.5 million per year in hardware, software, and, especially, IT systems administration — or $10,000 per duplicate portal eliminated per year.
- Improved decision making. Without a research portal that is easy to access, most researchers give up and stop looking for the best information that bears on their projects; they just make do with whatever they can find. One of our clients reported that their SinglePoint portal saved the company $100 million on one decision when an acquisition team working on a time-pressured deal over a weekend found research in their SinglePoint portal that challenged the market forecast for the technology of the acquisition target. Without SinglePoint, the client thought the deal would have gone through and would have been a disaster.
A SinglePoint knowledge management portal for market and competitive intelligence can greatly speed and enhance the processes of analyzing markets, tracking competition, understanding customers, forecasting technologies, and developing new products. It also helps win sales and develop new business and provides invaluable support for guiding product plans and new product strategies across the organization. And it saves millions of dollars per year for enterprises that deploy it wisely and widely.