Measuring the Benefits of Ajax, Page 2
Looking at the Big Picture
To use the Return on Investment (ROI) view when making a business case for Ajax has advantages, one of which is being able to give some financial context to the many qualitative advantages of a more efficient web application. Taking this analysis a step further to gauge the long-term impact of bandwidth requirements would add to the understanding by being able to estimate the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) when compared to an existing application.
Firms moving to Ajax tools such as the EBA Grid Control used in the test case have seen dramatic cost reductions in unexpected areas too. For example, consider opportunity costs. One firm was able to discontinue use of an expensive desktop application because the Grid allowed them to develop a Web application with comparable capabilities and without losing quality of user experience. The capital outlay of Web development projects is typically concentrated in up-front investment in human resources and licensing. However, the total cost of ownership can be much lower when you include the impact of yearly licensing on proprietary desktop software, as well as distribution and support costs for that application.
It might be short sighted, still, to rely on this kind of analysis to value Ajax. As mentioned previously, there are harder to quantify benefits that should be included in the decision making process. Not the least of these is the impact on employees. Better user interfaces can result in fewer human errors, lower training costs, and less overall frustration. Another avenue to explore is the potential to add new desktop-like functionality not possible in a traditional architecture. Ajax enables developers to provide new kinds of data visualizations and interactivity that would only have been seen before on the desktop, allowing users to do more with their information assets.
Although every new technology should be greeted with a healthy amount of skepticism, there are clearly demonstrable, quantifiable advantages to using an Ajax architecture in a Web application. These cost savings originate primarily from time savings, but also from reductions in bandwidth requirements. A representative test case showed that a business can save between 500 and 2,800 man hours per year on a 10-step hypothetical process, saving roughly 4 seconds per step (a between 30% and 70% reduction in labor costs). Although the benefits of improved application architecture extend beyond mere time savings, when included in the decision making process, an ROI approach such as this can help make a solid business case for Ajax.
About the Author
Alexei White is a Product Manager for eBusiness Applications (EBA), a Web development firm based in Vancouver, British Columbia that designs and implements Ajax-based components for enterprises. He can be reached for comment at email@example.com. He also operates AjaxInfo.com, a Web portal for Ajax resources, news, and tutorials that can be found at http://www.ajaxinfo.com.