At least 16 people are involved in major tech purchasing decisions 21% of the time, according to research. Will Brookes asks if too many people are getting involved
Technology is becoming more important for businesses, whether its software for services support, tech for improving manufacturing productivity or design programmes to boost productivity. This means big tech purchasing decisions increasingly have to be made not by IT or technology specialists but by those who work in HR, design and operations, for example.
This brings added complexity to the decision-making process. In 2016, research by CEB (now Gartner) found that 6.8 people were, on average, involved in making business decisions. But a new report by B2B media brand Raconteur has found that at least 16 people are involved 21 per cent of the time.
‘Big tech purchasing decisions increasingly have to be made not by IT or technology specialists’
The research surveyed 1,100 UK business leaders across a range of functions and uncovered a complex buying matrix when investing in goods and services. Before making a purchase decision, 94 per cent of business leaders say at least six people are involved, while 53 per cent say 11 or more decision-makers are consulted.
It is also growing more complex in terms of seniority. The research found that the final decision is no longer the preserve of the most senior exec, with directors, heads of departments and managers all having sign-off responsibility for purchases.
While involving more people in decisions can help ensure that all views are taken into account and the right decision is made, there are difficulties. The research finds that business leaders have some say over decisions in, on average, four departments beyond their own. We see HR involved in decisions on which finance technology to buy and marketing taking part in conversations around cybersecurity tech purchases.
This is important because making the right decisions effectively can have profound impacts on a business. Technology can help improve cost-effectiveness, increase productivity and boost growth, while making the wrong decision or taking too long to make the call can have the opposite effect.
That is why tech and IT leaders remain critical. The research found that 54 per cent of business leaders cite IT as regularly involved in the decision-making process, while 48 per cent name the technology function.
IT and technology leaders describe themselves as a core member of the decision-making team across products and services ranging from ERP and sales technologies, to business intelligence software and accountancy and finance services.
The key to good decision-making is having the department that best understands how the technology will be used involved, but also ensuring that the leaders who really understand technology are in the room as well. That means understanding, from the beginning, who needs to be involved in the decision and ensuring they are in the conversation.
For those selling the technology, whether through brand awareness or lead generation campaigns, it means realising that targeting a single decision-maker who works in the specific function where their technology is used is the wrong strategy. Yes, those selling, for example, martech need to have the marketing function on board, but they also need buy-in from IT, procurement, sales, finance and HR.
I believe the results show that businesses are becoming less siloed at leadership level, with departments working together to make buying decisions. But this means that, to be effective, business leaders must balance being experts in their field with developing a broad understanding and knowledge of the major trends affecting business. For IT and tech leaders, this is even more critical.
The business world is becoming increasingly interconnected, meaning the impacts of the decisions leaders make are far more wide-reaching. Whether companies are considering their sustainability strategy, navigating supply-chain risk or purchasing a new CRM system, leaders increasingly need to understand what is happening outside their function and how it impacts them. Those who do not will struggle to play a valuable role in their organisations, limiting their ability to gain influence and progress.
Will Brookes is CEO of Raconteur
More on tech purchasing
Worldwide IT spending to grow 5 per cent in 2023 – Gartner has predicted worldwide IT spending among organisations to increase year-on-year by 5.1 per cent in 2023, as digital business initiatives progress
Spending on cyber security to hit $188bn next year – Cyber security spending will also enjoy double-digit growth in 2024 until cheaper solutions enter the market