Role of IT Decision Maker Strengthens as COVID Increases Need for Tech

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The latest IDG study provides insight into technology’s role in the business and the always evolving tech purchase process. Aside from the status-quo factors that result in buying-cycle shifts, 2020 brought new challenges as well as opportunities for IT decision-makers (ITDMs).

This year’s research, entitled ‘2020 Role & Influence of the Technology Decision-Maker’, found that IT purchase decisions will be controlled more centrally within the IT organisation (50%) and that many organisations will see the decision-making process extended, or lengthened (49%). Despite previous uncertainty around technology budgets, we see some promising outlook as 76% of ITDMs say their tech budgets will either increase or remain the same over the next 12 months.

Necessity of New Tech Purchases

According to CIO’s 2020 Pandemic Business Impact survey in August, 59% of ITDMs agree that the effects of the pandemic are accelerating their digital transformation efforts. As organisations re-evaluate their yearly goals and plans, it’s clear that additional technology is needed to move businesses forward – whether to improve work-from-home effectiveness, expand product portfolios, or establish a return-to-office plan. Looking at what’s driving IT strategy, 32% say responding to internal events (i.e. process changes), 29% say responding to external events (i.e. market changes), and 35% say status-quo tasks/’keeping the lights on’.

When asked to think about their likely purchases over the next 6-12 months, 52% of tech leaders expect them to be additions/brand new tech solutions. Out of these additions, 34% are being planned for regardless of recent events and 18% are being made specifically due to recent events (i.e. pandemic). Following additions, 27% say their purchases will be made as upgrades, and 21% as replacements of existing technology.

While new tech purchases have been deemed essential, ITDMs aren’t just going back to existing partners and are considering new vendors. Asked specifically about quick purchase decisions that have resulted due to the pandemic, 42% say they’re extremely/very likely to consider a new vendor; with reasons including: the current product/service no longer meets their business need (44%), poor customer service (42%), and increased cost/level of investment require by current vendor (41%).

“There’s no question that technology innovation and adoption is imperative to the growth of businesses and society overall, however the events of 2020 has created an even stronger need,” said Sue Yanovitch, VP of Marketing, IDG. “IT leaders are tasked with keeping the lights on during these tumultuous times, while at the same time innovating and increasing operational efficiency. It’s important that IT vendors understand the business needs of tech buyers and provide excellent customer experience and support during these trying times.”

Understanding the Influencers

The IDC ‘2019 Role & Influence’ study showed the average buying committee includes 21 people – 11 IT influencers and 10 LOB influencers. Rather than have respondents provide a new number this year, the study asked about how the average number of influencers was expected to shift. From an IT perspective, 30% expect the average number of IT people involved to increase, 59% expect it to remain the same, and only 11% expect a decrease. Looking at LOB individuals involved, 26% expect the number to increase, 57% expect it to remain the same, and 17% think the number will decrease. Despite a fairly balanced buying committee, the study shows that IT is the primary budget-holder for 70% of tech purchases.

Continuing to prove IT’s strong presence in the purchase process, the 2020 Role & Influence study revealed that IT owns either the first or second leadership position in each stage of the process. Areas where business leadership pops-up include determining the business need and approving/authorising purchases. This year, the research also looked at the length of each purchase stage which is essential to better understand the window of opportunity to connect with these IT buyers. Currently, the shortest stages are determining technical requirements and determining the business need. However, over the next 6-12 months, ITDMs anticipate the amount of time needed to determine the business need and authorise/approve purchases to increase.

In 2019, the average number of assets downloaded during the purchase process by tech leaders was five. Asked how they expect this amount to change in the next 6-12 months, 41% of ITDMs think their consumption will increase, 51% anticipate it will remain the same, and only 8% expect a decrease. Those purchasing IoT devices are more likely to expect an increase (50%), followed by cloud products/services (48%), and IT services (48%).

Leading the way this year in information sources relied upon to stay up-to-date on new technologies are tech content sites (54%), white papers (47%), and webcasts/webinars (45%). Due to remote-work and the lack of in-person meetings/events, it’s no surprise that webcasts/webinars are heavily sought after. Last year, 38% of ITDMs relied upon these virtual sources for information, making it the 7th most relied upon source, while this year we see it jump to third. IT leaders are realising the value of these virtual platforms as they provide them with the opportunity to engage, learn and bring new solutions and practices back to their organisations.