Brad in Accounts May Be The Best Person to Have a Word With

Many thanks to influencer50 was passing me the article their research referred to. It’s described as an article by Pui Wing Tam from the WSJ’s E-Commerce Supplement Online in June 2003.

The article’s headline, “Brad in Accounts May Be The Best Person to Have a Word With”, points to a real communications challenge: how can one effectively communicate directly to Brad in Accounts?

However, it’s not clear to us that how Californians hunt for the “latest tech gizmo” gives us a good indicator for national, or international, trends in the procurement of high-value solutions.

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THE DAYS OF picking up a magazine when looking for the latest tech gizmo may be coming to an end. It’s just possible that the tall accounts guy down the corridor, your over-the-fence neighbor or your company executive’s driver now has more influence on what your company buys than the host of magazines, ezines and expert opinion that we pay to assail us every working day. That is the core finding of research by the Santa Clara Institute of Business in Santa Clara, Calif.

Questioning 1600 corporate officers in California-based medium-sized and enterprise-level businesses earlier this year, the Institute found that 45 -55% of those they felt had influenced their decision were either trade or specialist magazines, or expert industry analysts. These are the people long since considered the most influential authorities to which we, the public, always turn to. That’s a high figure you say, but not when you consider that the same research eight years ago yielded a figure of 75-85%. (The span is because the figures differ according to indiv idual purchase categories).

So who has apparently taken the title of Most Influential Authority? Well that’s less clear. The SC Institute says it’s a disparate loose-knit group of industry vendors, user groups, standards bodies, informal personal contacts and peer groups. It claims the whole science of influence in the workplace is changing, leading to technology suppliers now having to rethink how to appeal to their buyers.

With traditional information lines breaking down with the onset of e-channels, we have become a society less inclined to trust those sources we revered just a few years ago, and we’re creating our own knowledge networks. So when you borrow that lawnmower from your neighbor this weekend, you may want to check the person’s views on your technology strategy while you’re there.

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