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Information Technology Investments: Characteristics, Choices, Market Risk and Value

Research paper by Brian L. Dos Santos

Indexed on: 01 Sep '03Published on: 01 Sep '03Published in: Information Systems Frontiers



Abstract

The decisions confronting information technology (IT) managers have changed a great deal since the early 1970s. The key decisions three decades ago were related to the management of application development projects and operations centers. Today, the key decisions are quite different. What level of service should the firm provide end-users? Should IT services, development projects and the ownership and management of operations centers be outsourced? IT investments attempt to satisfy specific needs. Because of environmental differences and differences in the cost structure and benefits of alternative ways in which these needs can be met, the answers to these questions may differ across firms. Modern financial analysis can provide insights to help managers deal with many of the problems they currently face. We use modern financial theory to show how the value of IT investments can be affected by some of the choices made by managers. We show how the market risk of demand and the market risk of costs affect the market risk and value of IT investments. We consider three types of investment decisions: outsourcing versus in-house services; investments in interorganizational systems; and determining the optimal level of IT services that should be provided. Our analysis indicates that: (1) as the market risk of demand for operations decreases, firms are less likely to outsource operations; (2) the value of an investment in an interorganizational system increases as the market risk of costs increases; and (3) the optimal level of user service is inversely related to service demand risk and is directly related to the market risk of service costs.