Why are analysts out-influencing the IT manager?

One of the trends that’s growing most quickly right now is the way in which IT buying is spreading outside the IT function, and it’s compounded by the rate at which non-IT managers are influencing IT buying. I’m not talking about BYOD, but about major corporate purchasing. Six months ago, in our survey of CIOs and IT Buyer, my colleagues and I asked about how IT buying is shifting. You can read Roger’s report of the seminar I hosted at the IET to present the findings.

The key fact was that now most IT buying decisions are arrived at by IT and non-IT managers.

Our survey focussed on the UK. Today I’ve been discussing results from a similar European survey with a colleague in Munich. My European CIO survey shows that the analyst community is the most trusted external advisor to executives who purchase technology. In firms with revenues over £250m, the analyst community is as influential as the IT manager. The analysts community is especially influential in the finance and manufacturing sectors, with retail, distribution and transport tailing behind. Across Europe, around 68% of analyst influence is on organisations with revenues over £250m.

What’s striking is this: in firms turning over between £50m and £250m, executives are three times more likely to say that the IT manager is influential than they are to say it’s someone in the analyst community. However, with firms whose revenue is over £250m, it’s equal numbers. IT managers in large firms are one-third less influential than their peers in small firms; while analysts are twice as trusted in large firms. That says something about the way in which many larger firms have:

  • outsourced more of their IT and IT strategy
  • delegated IT buying to line of business managers
  • rolled out analyst insight to non-IT roles.

I asked one of the leading industry analysts in Europe, Alan Pelz Sharpe, for his thoughts on this. Alan says:

One thing we are seeing is that the IT manager/director is getting sidelined more and more often. Google Enterprise for example don’t talk to CIO’s; CEO or nothing. It’s a business decision.

I just had a major run-in with someone on this topic: They believe that their love affair with Gartner is great because they have big enterprise customers. My point (and they don’t like it) is that the ‘enterprise buyer’ is becoming mythical. There are multiple buying points throughout the enterprise these days – and more of those deals are services. The big on-premises software details are going the way of the dinosaurs – etc.  The thing is: business buyers in particular like analyst research. It makes sense to them and gives them actionable advice.

These are European data, but none of these trends are especially European. It would be fascinating to see how the data will differ elsewhere. But, right now, it look like vendors whose sales channels rely on selling through the IT manager need to dramatically shift their ideas of content marketing, influencer strategies and market development.

Duncan Chapple

Duncan Chapple is the preeminent consultant on optimising international analyst relations and the value created by analyst firms. As SageCircle research director, Chapple directs programs that assess and increase the business value of relationships with industry analysts and sourcing advisors.

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