A Critical (and Easy to Discover) Element of Customer Understanding

Let me start this post with one of my mantras:  The most important elements of ideal customer profiles are not the basic firmographic descriptors of the company.   The most important elements are those that capture motivations and behavioral aspects of the business you are targeting.

And, in tech, there may be nothing more important than discovering the level of importance of technology to the business.  This is a fundamental element of our Enterprise Technology Adoption profiles–one of the seven questions we use to assess the attitudes that drive technology decisions.

If you could only get one answer, it would be that question.   Let’s use a graphic to show the question and the answer options.    We’ll also see the % of purchase decisions that met our criteria for a High Quality Deal (HQD) -situation when respondents feel pretty strongly that their expectations have been met and the either purchased a premium product or feel strongly that they did not settle for something less ambitious than they were seeking when they got started.

As the chart shows, as the strategic importance of technology grows, the likelihood of an HQD increases.  Companies that few technology as critical to the business are over 20x more likely to have an HQD than companies that see tech as underpinning the business.    These patterns repeat themselves in study are study.  The percentages may change a bit, but the pattern does not.   This effectively defines the breaks for the New Chasm.

While I used HQDs to illustrate this, we also see other big differences as technology gets viewed more strategically:

A more consistent pattern of investment
Comfort with change, that includes planning for change
Less dysfunction within buying teams
Less likely to experience issues in the early stages of deployment

The good news is that understanding the general importance of technology to the company should not be hard.  Reviewing an annual report, press releases, or even the company Web site will provide clues if not outright clarity.  You don’t have to be perfect, just think of a scale that moves from tactical to strategic.  This will help you anticipate what lies ahead.

Importantly, throughout the years, the distribution of companies along these lines has remained consistent.   Many years ago, Gartner said “Every company is (or will become) a technology company.”  We aren’t there yet and some that may have embraced this still don’t view it as completely strategic.   The general pattern we see is roughly 1/3 of companies see tech as critical or adding significant value; 1/3 see it growing in importance; and the final 1/3 think of it as an efficiency enabler or non-differentiating.

Finally, it is important to remember two more things:

Regardless of the strategic view, all companies spend money on tech.  Just recognize that the way they buy will be very different.
Even those with a strategic mindset need buying assistance.  While much better, 56% of the those that feel it is critical did not have an HQD.  69% of those that see it adding value.   The good news is these folks are very likely to welcome assistance–particularly if it build confidence in their ability to achieve value.

I hope that this helps those of you that have found the 7 questions for ETAs daunting, with concerns about how to discover all of that information.  Just discover this to get started, then learn more.

I could talk about buying behavior all day long, about business buyers vs. IT buyers (a distinction that is becoming less relevant over time), about challenging assumptions.   But it is hard to dedicate a day (or find someone that will listen that long).

So how about 45 minutes instead?

At the Gartner Tech Growth and Innovation Conference (June 14-15), beyond my sessions, I’ve got a 45 minute block to talk about buying to anyone who is interested.  I hope you’ll join the discussion.


Source: Gartner Hybrid Cloud

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.