Mornin’ Cup: The $50,000 Pixel

coffee.gifWhat is the single most expensive thing you’ve ever bought? A house? A car? A dream vacation? What about in the business world? What is the most expensive thing you or your company has ever purchased? A building? A fabrication system? A technology platform? An acquisition of a rival firm? All of those things are expensive, big-ticket items, but they all have value associated with them.

If your firm purchased another company through an M&A process, the new firm becomes an asset, and you expect to receive value from that asset. If you don’t receive value for something you’ve purchased, in the consumer world at least, you can return it for a refund. In a business context, you usually have to chalk it up to” lessons learned” and move on. This is why due diligence is so important.

I had a client some years back who was very finicky. Through many, many iterations of reworking their new web application’s design, they ended up spending thousands of dollars because they couldn’t make up their mind whether this one particular image asset looked better on the right side of the page, or the left side. Just when we thought they had finally decided, they decided to shift the image one pixel to the left. “Voila! There, it’s perfect!” Thus our development team coined a new phrase: the $50,000 pixel. We actually had a sign hanging up at one point that said “No more $50,000 pixels!”

It wasn’t that the placement of the image was unimportant – it was. The question was one of simple ratios. ROI. Value for the dollar. Bang for the buck.

This firm had spent a sizable chunk o’ change on something that in the end added very little value to their business, or their customers. Ergo: if you are spinning your wheels on something that isn’t delivering value, it is probably best left alone.


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