Annual tech buyers research provides roadmap for tech vendors to educate customers during critical stages within purchase process
Boston, MA — June 14, 2023 — Foundry, the media, data, and martech division of IDG, Inc., has released its annual tech buyers journey research, the 2023 Role & Influence of the Technology Decision-Maker report. The research provides an in-depth analysis of who is involved in the IT purchase process, the information sources they rely on, and how to best engage and educate them.
Technology budgets appear to be “recession-proof” with the majority of IT decision-makers (ITDMs) expecting their budgets to either increase (50%) or remain stable (38%) over the next 12 months, similar to last year’s results. However, 61% agree that the purchase process is becoming increasingly complex (this increases to 66% in enterprise organizations).
Adding to the complexity is the number of influencers involved in the purchase process which has increased to 25 (up from 20 in 2022). This number varies by product area with a high of 28 influencers for cloud computing and data and analytics solutions, to a low of 21 for desktops/laptops. The time it takes to move through the process has also increased to 6.5 months (up from 6.2 months in 2022).
“With the increased complexity in the tech purchase process, customers are looking to their vendor partners for help,” said Stacey Raap, Marketing & Research Manager, Foundry. “This year’s study identifies that the process is more likely to get hung up within the product evaluation and authorization stages. Customers need additional resources or assistance from a vendor during that evaluation stage, creating an excellent opportunity for vendors to provide resources designed to educate at that stage.”
Here are some of the report’s findings:
Tech budgets continue to be strong
According to Foundry’s findings, the majority of ITDMs (88%) report that their budgets are stable or growing. This overall stability is consistent across organizations of all sizes and regions. There is variation in the results for budget growth with 57% of enterprise organizations saying their budgets will increase compared with 44% of SMBs, and 60% budget growth in EMEA compared with 50% in APAC and 48% NA). Those differences are evened out with reciprocal results within the budget numbers remaining the same.
What will influence tech purchases?
ITDMs are faced with finding a balance between innovation and maintaining business as usual. The organization’s IT strategy is driven by status quo tasks and keeping the lights on (36%), responding to internal events (31%) and responding to external events (28%).
Looking at the internal and external events that will influence tech purchase decisions, the number 1 internal event is increased automation (51%), followed by process changes (47%), which in the current economic climate are not surprising given that automation can drive cost saving and increased productivity, and process changes are affected by so many things, including the shift to remote work. Looking at external events that influence purchase decisions, the focus is squarely on the economy (49%) and customers (47%).
Influencing the tech purchase process
The average number of individuals who influence the tech purchase process has increased to 25 people – 13 IT and 12 LOB. This varies by company size with enterprise organizations having buying teams of 33 (17 IT and 16 LOB), but only 15 in SMB organizations (7 IT and 8 LOB).
The CIO or top IT Executive is the top leader involved in each stage of the purchasing process, except for determining the technical requirements and evaluating products and services. Instead, this is where the CIO relies heavily on IT management, security staff, and engineers. This years results show an increase in security’s role in the tech purchase process with security now prominently featured in four stages – determine technical requirements, evaluate products/services, recommending and selecting vendors, and interestingly, post-sales engagement which is ensuring the secure set up of, and integration with, existing systems.
Understanding the purchase process
Large enterprises reported a greater likelihood of a sale stalling than did their SMB counterparts at five of the six stages, led by requirements determination, product evaluation, and purchase approval. Each was cited by 35% of ITDMs. SMBs pointed to difficulties selling the solution internally and gaining purchase authorization as the biggest choke points. There are notable variances by region with EMEA respondents reporting the process stalls more often during technical requirements determination (41% vs. 26% in North America) while North American users stall more often during authorization/approval (cited by 38% compared to 25% in EMEA and 31% in APAC).
Looking at where the choke points in the process are, combined with where customers feel they need additional resources, provides a roadmap for how vendors can help. Within the evaluation stage – 33% of organizations report that this is the stage purchase process is apt to stall – is also stage where the most ITDM say they need additional resources or assistance from vendors (48%), and is the stage in which they are seeking out the highest number of sources (4.1).
On average, ITDMs access seven different sources for the information they need to keep up-to-date with new technologies and to enhance the knowledge needed to be effective in their roles. The number one resource (43%) they rely upon is technology content sites followed by white papers (37%), and webcasts/webinars; technology vendors via phone, email or video conference, and tech vendors (via the vendor website) (all 33%). While tech content sites remain a constant across generations there is a shift vendors should note. GenZ respondents show a decrease in reliance on tech vendors – especially web sites – and an increased interest in infographics and podcasts over their generational counterparts.
Throughout the first three stages of the purchase process, technology content sites are the number one relied upon information source. Given the nature of tech content sites being educational resources with in-depth articles, product reviews, and opinion articles, it makes sense as to why these would be the number one information source when ITDMs are doing the majority of their research prior to purchasing a tech product/service. White papers also remain in the top three sources during these exploratory and educational stages. Once a vendor is selected and moves into the approval process, ITDMs turn to technology vendors, whether that be via their website, email, phone or video conference, as well as their peers for additional information and insight.
Brand awareness matters
This year the study found that more than half (65%) of ITDMs typically spend more time-consuming content from well-known and trusted brands because they are confident their time will be well spent on these sources. This increases to 73% for millennials, and 68% for GenZ. More than half (65%) also agree that when all stakeholders are aware of a brand it makes the internal sell through process easier, and this increases to 73% for millennials, and 70% for GenZ.
For technology marketers, it’s important to connect with tech buyers where they are researching solutions for their business needs and throughout the purchase process. Learn about how you can expand your reach and engage these IT decision-makers by becoming a sponsor at one of Foundry’s virtual or in-person summits or roundtables.
About the research
Foundry’s 2023 Role & Influence of the Technology Decision-Maker Research was conducted online among the audiences of Foundry’s B2B brands (CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, and Network World) representing IT and security decision-makers involved in the IT purchase process for their organization. Results in this release are based on 846 global respondents to the 32-question survey across multiple industries and countries.
Read the full report by Foundry here.
About Foundry, an IDG Inc. Company
Foundry helps companies bring their visions to reality through a combination of media, marketing technologies and proprietary data on a global scale. Our intent data and martech platforms are powered by data from an owned and operated ecosystem of global editorial brands, awards, and events, all engineered and integrated to drive marketing campaigns for technology companies. Foundry is dedicated to generating and innovating with data, driving demand for technology marketers with 38 offices in markets around the globe. Foundry is a wholly owned subsidiary of International Data Group, Inc. (IDG), the world’s leading tech media, data, research and marketing services company. To learn more about Foundry, visit www.foundryco.com.