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On the Hook for ROI? IT Security Might Present an Answer

BY mikeklein

One of the eternal challenges to the internal communicator is that of demonstrating return on investment (ROI): that dollars, euros and rubles spent on internal comms come back to the shareholders with suitable abundance.

ROI has remained a persistent challenge in that many internal comms activities are "infrastructural" (providing mechanisms for information delivery or dialogue), or "environmental" (helping provide the right context for executing service, improving productivity or stimulating innovation, without being directly responsible for the execution).

A whole industry of sorts has emerged to make an ROI case for the whole of internal comms activity--attempting to measure connections between Internal Comms investments and financial returns. But while many of these measures are interesting and defensible in conversations with senior management, there is an alternative approach.

That alternative approach involves seeking opportunities to support functions and activities where a direct connection between associated internal comms activities and financial returns can be demonstrated, and use those activities as the basis of building a business case for those activities that are less intuitively tangible. Better yet, demonstrating that those activities themselves cover the entire Internal Comms function's costs can provide greater headroom.

One such function where such measurement is easy to generate is IT Security. Though much IT Security comms is of the old school "Do This Now/Stop Doing This!" variety, IT Security offers real-time measurement of behavior changes and well documented figures for the costs, risks and benefits associated with communication success and failure.

Moreover, the stakes are massive. Prevention of cyber attacks and sabotage can save a company millions, and avert compromises of data and infrastructure which could otherwise impede normal service or destroy customer and employee relationships.

Because they see the impact of good and bad behaviors on their own work, IT Security leaders can be excellent, if somewhat old-fashioned clients, fans of tactics like posters and screensavers despised by more "enlightened" professionals.

But the fact that even such tactics can yield some measurable improvements which can justify broader Internal Comms agendas makes support for IT Security a worthwhile investment of effort and energy.


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