As Enterprise Tech Buying Habits Change, Are You Ready?

Thomas Saueressig, SAP SE’s 32-year-old chief information officer, looks for commitment when evaluating vendor pitches. Technology firms that get his attention are those “with which I feel confident I can build a long-term strategic partnership,” Mr. Saueressig, one of the corporate world’s youngest CIOs, told CIO Journal’s Angus Loten in an email.

That kind of brand loyalty is far less important to older IT buyers, according to new research by Spiceworks Inc., a networking platform for IT professionals, which identified key generational differences in how enterprise IT buyers find and engage with technology vendors. At the end of 2016, the number of millennials in the U.S. workforce overtook Generation X workers, by a margin of 58.1 million to 52.9 million, according to Pew Research Center. At the executive level, CIOs make up the youngest group in the C-suite, with an average age of 51, a Korn Ferry study reported last year. 

Writes Steve Rosenbush of the Wall Street Journal. Here is the important question worth asking. If there is a sea change coming in the way tech is purchased, is the industry ready?

What should tech companies do?


First off, they should focus on selling strategically and collaboratively. Rework MSP, channel and internal sales training. Ensure the people who sell solutions are selling via relationships.

Selling on price may become a less successful strategy. More importantly, companies may become more loyal to their current vendors meaning market share gains could be very difficult to achieve. 

Put it this way – if your prospects are more loyal to their current vendors than ever, even when you come out with new innovations and price them lower, you may not get your prospects to switch. They might wait longer than ever for their current vendors to improve.

This could make it tougher than ever for startups trying to disrupt markets.

If this report is accurate and more research needs to be done to confirm this is the case, it could be the biggest transformation in technology marketing and buying we have every seen. Even bigger than the internet which made price discovery and product acquisition far simpler.

Are technology marketers responding to this news at all? It doesn’t seem to be the case based on what we know. (Our team will be at IoT Evolution in Orlando next week and next month we’ll be at ITEXPO in Fort Lauderdale. We’ll be sure to ask the companies if they are even aware of this changing landscape)

The best response is for tech companies is to ramp marketing budgets now because if the lifetime value of customers is to increase, competitors will soon alter marketing budgets to take advantage of this change. The last one to increase budgets may also be last to see sales gains in the future.

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