Sea Change in Technology Purchasing

S. Schuchart

Summary Bullets:

• The days of IT making technology decisions by itself is gone, and the business has the main say now.

• The faster business and IT can accept this new reality the better the relationship and future for the company.

At Cisco’s Partner Summit in 2019, CEO Chuck Robbins said something that while apparent, does showcase the reality that the nature of the IT buyer is changing.

“Never has technology been more important to customers and never have they cared less about the details of that technology.” – Chuck Robbins

It has been clear for years that IT is a fundamental enabler of business. IT administrators have often been frustrated and stymied by corporate attitudes that IT is a cost center, to be contained and streamlined. Well, business has woken up and not only is the C-suite interested in technology, but individual lines of business are becoming the primary drivers of new business. Digitization of business further accelerates the trend, with the business taking a direct hand to use technology to get closer to the customer.
Well, IT got its wish. The business knows the power of technology and they want more. But it’s changed the dynamic. Before, technology decisions were made by IT, with some consultation with the business. Now technology decisions are being made by the business, with IT being consulted, but not given the final choice. The business wants technology solutions to its problems and as Robbins points out, does not particularly care how it works.

None of this should be news to vendors, administrators, or businesspeople. But for many, this is a change that is not only unwelcome, but unwanted. IT resents the loss of control, the business does not want to learn or change for technology and vendors now skew wildly between selling to the traditional tech crowd and the business.

What we need is a recognition that this is a sea change. There no going back. IT will never again be the sole decision maker in technology matters and the business can no longer ignore technology. For the administrator, its time to get closer to the business. IT needs to be the department of “Yes, and” not the department of “NO!” and shocked looks. Partnership with the business will engender trust. With more trust, more weight to IT’s advice will be given. Don’t get into technical details, talk about how it can affect the company and project.

For the business, when administrators bring up implementation issues or problems that can affect the project or company, it is up to you to listen. Your IT department are your in-house advisors who have a vested interest in the company and your project. Listen to their advice, seek it out. Ensure that IT is represented on the project and has a voice. Use their technical expertise and experience to your advantage.

Everyone needs to adjust to this reality. IT is part of the business and the business is part of IT. The faster we all get to the place where we are all pulling in the same direction the better off we will be. Because this is the new reality and there is no going back.

What do you think?

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