Shouldn’t enterprise technology buying be easier by now? With a simplistic view, the answer to this is a resounding yes. Of course it should be. There are plenty of reasons:
- Technology is not new for enterprises, in fact, pretty much everyone in the organization is exposed to it and has at a minimum a basic level of familiarity. Many have deep, deep experience.
- Power has shifted to the buyer. With ready access to information and a wide variety of viable options, enterprise customers are not subject to the whims and control tactics of providers. Long ago, you trusted IBM and maybe a few others. Now, there are many, many vendors with proven results.
- The ability to learn the perspective of peers is easier than ever with review sites and social networks that can provide you with detailed opinions from actual users and customers.
But all of these reasons also have a negative impact:
- With everyone familiar with technology, there are endless opinions on what should be done. Prioritization is a challenge and building consensus is more difficult than ever.
- With so much information and so many options, buyers may question if they have done enough research and if they have evaluated the right products. It’s difficult to tell when enough work has been done. And what information can be trusted.
- Peers offer insights, but what is right for their situation, may not be right for yours. And, like the availability of information, questions of when “enough is enough” abound.
These dichotomies create a conundrum. An environment that seems optimized for the buyer isn’t. And decisions take longer and longer. Indecision is more common, to the point of organizations sticking with the status quo much longer than they would like.
There are no easy answers to this conundrum. The best I can offer is to focus on scenarios, create a well-defined decision process, and leverage ideas that perfect information is not possible. Above all, during your evaluation process, require vendors to paint a very clear picture not of what is possible, but what is possible easily–and the path to get there.
And for vendors (my primary audience), do everything you can do help buyers with the three things above. Don’t act like buyers don’t get tech and don’t claim that everything is easy.
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