Solution providers - technology vendors and managed service providers - have scrambled to revamp their strategic messaging and marketing programs to communicate bottom-line value instead of the unsubstantiated soft-speak hype encouraged during the Internet era. Today enterprises only want to hear about what the technology solution - whether it is on premise, hosted or completely outsourced - will do to improve their business performance. In other words, how will the solution create economic value? This appetite for proof of value is pervasive throughout the enterprise community, no matter the industry. According to an IDC study in 2004 that polled software vendors and buyers, "72 percent of software vendors and 70 percent of software buyers strongly believe that the software industry must place a greater focus on clearly establishing the business value of software." ["Future of Software Licensing", IDC, March 2004] Solution providers' abilities to meet revenue goals, whether their offering is a product or service, are clearly dependent upon their ability to demonstrate solution value.

"Selling with ROI" has become the new mantra in the technology sector. ROI calculators have become standard equipment for the sales organization. But just how effective are ROI programs and how well do they model your business? More to the point for the buyer, to what extent can a vendor's ROI model be believed?

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