Productivity (the lack thereof being the bane of many advanced economies) can basically be summarized as getting more with less.
More specifically improved productivity comes about when the ratio of the factors of production (land, capital, labor etc.) changes positively in favor of output.
All CEOs are concerned with this most basic of ideas.
Irrespective of their organizations’ mission or goal, if it is achieved with lower productivity than, say, previous efforts or compared to an alternative approach or competitor , the result will be second class and possibly damaging.Users of information or technology (I suspect we ought to split “I” and “T” from IT) such as business leaders or IT leaders like the CIO, should also be concerned with getting more with less.
But there are some interesting and perhaps infrequently thought implications with this idea. For example, sometimes we can get more output from the same input- which is a dialog about efficiency. More challenging is the idea that you might be able to get a greater outcome from increased inputs, compared to an alternative approach or mix of inputs and outputs. Finally, sometimes we actually invest without a goal or specific output defined in order to lay a foundation for a subsequent or later investment and change in output.
In financial terms this investment might be thought of a “lost leader”.
So given these complexities why is it that not more investments in information (data and analytics) or technology not evaluate the implied, likely or desired change in inputs and outputs? Let’s look at some examples.