IDG ENGAGE Boston was a success! One of the highlights from the summit was the tech executive panel, where tech marketers got to hear first-hand their current pain points and initiatives. Unlike past years when we’ve held this panel, this year we invited multiple IT executives from the same organization to join us in order to get an all-encompassing view of their organization’s tech purchase process. The candid panel, hosted by CIO’s Adam Dennison, featured Michal Cenkl, Director of Innovation & Technology, The MITRE Corporation; Steve Deeb, VP of Technology, Agero, Inc.; Joel Jacobs, VP, CIO, The MITRE Corporation; Robert Sullivan, VP of Technology Shared Services, Agero, Inc.; and Fred Zapp, Director of IT, Knowledge & Collaboration, The MITRE Corporation. While this session was conducted “off the record,” we wanted to share some overarching themes:

Transitioning to Digital First
An overall theme of this panel was transitioning to a digital first business – whether that be their first or second round of digital projects. For example, panelists discussed implementing a cloud transformation, along with mobilization of the entire company. Factors that they use when evaluating a vendor include speed, agility, user experience, rapid deployment, and integrability. It is also imperative that tech vendors show that they understand the business they are selling to and provide customer success stories of similar clients.

Expediting the Tech Purchase Process
Our research shows that the average length of the tech purchase process is 4.9 months, give or take a few weeks or months depending on the technology being purchased and the size of the company. Based on the candor from our IT leaders, tech marketers do not have these full five months to educate IT decision-makers on their product. Our panel indicated that the education process should start years before the decision-maker is ready to purchase, because their actual allotted time to purchase a new technology may only be two months. In order to make a quick and quality decision, IT executives want to be fully educated on the products available to them and understand the business value for their specific industry before proposing the solution to purchase.

Breaking Down the Tech Decision-Makers
An average of 21 influencers are involved in the tech purchase process according to our 2019 Role & Influence research. This number has increased year-over-year, and our tech panel confirmed that this is what they are seeing within their organizations – and this is for the better. Not only does it allow more IT and line of business collaboration, but it allows these influencers to get on the same page and be open-minded about new tools early in the purchase process. The last thing they want is to plan the implementation of a new technology and then have an executive throw a wrench in the plan two weeks before the deadline. It is interesting to note, that engaging with the business side is still seen as a tactical decision – an avenue of communication is only open when a business user comes to IT with a need or when IT wants the business user to understand the value of a tool or solution.

As tech marketers, it’s critical to provide value to all levels of individuals involved in the tech purchase process – whether that be the IT professional, engineer or CIO. No matter what, understanding the business value of your product for that specific organization is essential and may put you ahead of your competitors.

We cannot thank our panelists enough for their time and candor. Learn more about the takeaways from the event on Twitter.