Digital Transformation Paves a More Level Playing Field for Incumbent & Startup Tech Vendors

As digital transformation disrupts traditional IT architecture, IT buying patterns are shifting as well. Notably, incumbent vendors appear to be losing their edge against startups and other new entrants.

IDG’s latest Role & Influence of the Technology Decision-Maker study finds that of the more than 2,000 technology purchases studied, nearly half (48%) went to a new vendor versus an existing vendor. While it’s understandable that IT buyers consider new vendors for an emerging category such as Internet of Things (IoT), decision-makers also show a willingness to switch providers in more mature categories such as enterprise software, IT services, and telecom.

This trend is part of an ongoing evolution in how companies buy technology, driven by digital transformation. On average, 16 people are involved in influencing major enterprise technology purchases, with stakeholders split evenly across IT and line-of-business functions. While IT still generally controls the short list, IT and business are increasingly aligned on technology initiatives, with 61% of survey respondents saying IT is involved in mapping IT strategy to business goals. The survey also finds that internal and external events – LOB requests, market changes, and the like – are twice as likely to drive IT strategy as ongoing “keep-the-lights” on activities.

To understand just how disruptive this digital transition has been to IT buying, consider that just 28% of technology purchases over the past two years were upgrades to existing technology. The remainder was split between replacing existing technology (32%) or adding new technology (40%), led by heavy investments in cloud computing services, mobile apps, and IoT devices.

With more vendors competing for IT mindshare, technology marketers will need to raise their games. And guess what? Content remains the key to attracting, engaging, and converting IT buyers. This year’s survey shows that IT decision-makers download an average of five assets during the purchase process, which spans nearly five months on average. For emerging categories such as web apps, cloud software/services, and IoT devices, they’re spending even more time – and consuming more content – before making a decision.

The good news is this measured approach gives marketers ample time to engage with ITDMs using a variety of tactics.

For new vendors trying to build awareness, it’s important to understand how native advertising, delivered through independent, trustworthy sources, can guide buyers in your direction. Tech content sites such as CIO and Computerworld are the single most important channel for ITDMs to keep current on new technologies – and have been for the past three years of the Role & Influence study.

For incumbents, make sure you’re building out a full-funnel approach that maps to the buyer’s journey. Leverage the credibility you’ve established with customers with a content strategy that addresses a range of content, from thought leadership to help buyers stay current on new trends, to practical advice for testing and deploying new solutions. Assess your current offerings and fill any gaps where you’re conceding mindshare to competitors.

For all tech marketers, the most essential ingredient of every interaction remains unchanged: trust.

For more best practices and insights on the IT buyer’s journey, download the white paper Digital Transformation Opens New Paths To The Short List.

Find me on Twitter @roboregan.


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