Study finds business decision makers rely more on purchase insights from their IT colleagues

Business peers are less influential than IT professionals in buying decisions

Spiceworks, the professional network for IT, has published the results of a new survey exploring the role IT decision makers and business decision makers play in the technology purchase process as well as the sources they rely on to make decisions.

The study “ITDMs and BDMs: Tech Purchase Superheroes” found that ITDMs serve as organizations’ primary purchase influencers and technology “gatekeepers” while BDMs are more likely to give final approval on technology funds and purchases. Additionally, the new research highlights the reliance BDMs place on IT insights when organizations are making technology purchasing decisions.

The survey results show nearly 90 percent of ITDMs evaluate and recommend technology solutions while less than 50 percent of BDMs do the same. However, 47 percent of BDMs give final approval for technology purchases compared to 22 percent of ITDMs. This dynamic underscores the distinct roles BDMs and ITDMs play in the technology purchasing process, and more specifically, the IT decision makers’ responsibility to determine the technology needs, evaluate solutions and vendors, make the final recommendation, and ultimately implement and manage new technology.

“As an IT professional, I’m not the final decision maker at my organization, but I have two very important roles: decision influencer and technology gatekeeper,” said Justin Davison, manager of IT operations at RJ Lee Group. “Our business partners in marketing, development, sales and other functions rely on our technical expertise and understanding of our existing environment to help make decisions that are right for the business. So if a technology vendor doesn’t convince IT, their product typically doesn’t make it to the business decision maker.”

ITDMs have significantly more influence on major infrastructure purchases

The study shows BDMs are more reliant on insights from IT decision makers than their business partners and peers. While 72 percent of BDMs said they value feedback from ITDMs regarding purchase decisions, only 41 percent of business decisions makers value feedback from their BDM peers. This is likely because ITDMs spend more time conducting labor-intensive research, which often leads to more purchase influence during the decision making process.

In fact, compared to business decisions makers, IT decision makers have more purchase influence for nearly all technologies, especially major infrastructure purchases like servers, virtualization, networking, and security solutions. Additionally, 63 percent of ITDMs influence decisions on cloud-based services compared to 42 percent of BDMs.

ITDMs also have slightly more purchase influence for end-user technology, such as computing devices, printers, and business applications, but the gap of influence between ITDMs and BDMs is much smaller for end-user technology compared to infrastructure purchases.

ITDMs spend more time researching technology and require more content

When examining the most effective ways for marketers to reach ITDMs and BDMs, the results show ITDMs are more receptive to most marketing channels. The best way to reach ITDMs is through webinars, online forums, and conferences where they can find educational content during the technology research phase. Compared to ITDMs, BDMs are less receptive to online marketing channels and conferences, but they’re more receptive to physical mail and phone calls.

Since ITDMs conduct more research about technology solutions, they require more pieces of content than BDMs and place a higher value on technical content. In fact, ITDMs require up to 17 pieces during the entire decision making process while BDMs only require 12.

ITDMs and BDMs are largely in sync on what they believe are the most important factors to consider when making a technology purchase decision. Both agree reliability is the most important factor to consider with 96 percent of ITDMs and 93 percent BDMs saying it’s very important or critical. Eighty-nine percent of ITDMs and BDMs also agree security is an important consideration factor, but ITDMs believe a solution’s ability to address a business need, its compatibility, and its cost is slightly more important.