IT Buying Shifts to the Line of Business

There has been a lot of talk about changes in who buys information technology. Many of the vendors I speak with have noticed that line of business or departmental managers – in other words, non-IT professionals – are becoming more involved in purchase decisions, especially software purchases. Now, I’ve been around the block long enough to know that a lot of what you hear from the field isn’t always all that real. We tend to overreact to recent events and see trends where there aren’t any. Often, losing a few sales deals in similar situations will make it seem like the same thing is happening everywhere even when it really is only a few deals.

That’s not the case here.

This year, as part of the ESG IT Spending Intentions Survey (publishing later this month), ESG’s research team included a sample of marketing professionals. In amongst the responses to all the great questions we asked about their IT buying habits was this little nugget – 43% in the marketing sample said they were frequently involved in the IT evaluation and selection process. Ok. That’s not that radical. Smart IT involves lots of people in IT buying decisions. However, 25% of the respondents said that their involvement in the IT buying process was increasing. Not that they were involved but that they were becoming more involved. Fine. Their influence is growing. That makes good sense. As IT managers become more strategic in their thinking, they are likely to realize the benefits of bringing more stakeholders to the table.

Then there was this. Over a third (36%) of the marketing professionals in the sample said they had purchased the technology without the approval or purview of IT. That’s right. More than a third said they bought IT products and services, including business software, website development, and cloud storage to name a few, without IT getting involved. This is a radical change in how information technology is selected and purchased.

Now, this is one small sample of a specific type of knowledge worker. It may be that marketing professionals are more likely to buy technology on their own than other types of professionals. Maybe but why would that be? Marketing professionals might buy different types of applications but everyone uses some type of business application and storage. It is much more plausible that the disruptive forces of social, mobile, and cloud are shifting buying power away from IT and toward the actual end-user – the knowledge professional.

That’s exactly what I think the data is saying to us. It would be a good idea for us all to listen.

Topics: IT Infrastructure Enterprise Mobility