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The Road to Gartner’s Enterprise Technology Adoption Profiles (and the road ahead)

by Hank Barnes  |  October 30, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

For the past five years, Gartner has been developing and refining a new approach for categorizing businesses based upon their attitudes toward technology adoption.   When we first started sharing the analysis publicly a couple of years ago, we called it  Gartner’s “new” Enterprise Personality Profiles, aka EPP.    The initial research was published with an orientation entirely toward technology vendors, providing a new way to think about their customers, focus messaging, and improve account targeting and prioritization.

This year, we decided to broaden the audience to include CIOs and business leaders that are making technology decisions.   Why?  Because we discovered through our research (which was featured in the Gartner Symposium Opening Keynote) that these profiles provide insights that can help leaders both make the case for change and understand more of the hidden forces that may be blocking change.

Our data showed these profiles provided more insights into progress toward digital transformation  than traditional segmentation options.  And, that those that were progressing faster were more likely to outperform their peers than those moving slowly.   For clients, more details can be found in this research, Use Gartner ETA Profiles to Reveal Attitudinal Barriers to Digital Transformation, developed by Heather Colella and myself.

As we broadened the focus, and as Gartner itself broadened its focus with the CEB acquisition, we realized that the name original name did not fly.  First, EPP, to many CIOs and IT Leaders means end point protection.  And while it may be impossible to have an acronym that only has one meaning, that was a concern.  But more importantly, our models really focused solely on attitudes that drive technology decisions, not broader organizational ones where technology is not central to the decisions.

So, we moved to the new terminology, Enterprise Technology Adoption Profiles, abbreviated ETA Profiles.   It is kinda cool to ask, what’s your ETA?

While the statistical methodology did not change, we also updated two other terms.   First, we renamed one of the three attribute groups from “motivation” to “pace of change” as that provided more clarity as to what we are assessing–how fast does the enterprise like to react.    We also changed one of the pace attributes from stable to measured.   Again, a bit more clarity on the terms.  The overall approach is covered in a Gartner methodology note (for clients), Understanding Gartner’s Enterprise Technology Adoption Profiles. John Lovelock is the lead author of that note (and one of the key experts who developed the model–I just latched onto it because it is so cool).

Source: Gartner

For those new to this work, here is a quick explanation of how it works.  It’s a bit like Myers-Briggs, but for organizations–with a technology focus.   To determine what cluster your business falls into, you complete a seven question assessment (available online, for anyone, at https://surveys.gartner.com/s/ETAProfile).  By itself, that is not super revealing.  You can, however, do things like answer the questions again based on how you would like the business to act–and then compare results to chart a course for change.   You can also  use this when you join a new organization to get a feel for forces that might impact your ability to lead technology driven change.  You can expect more research and advice for CIOs and other business leaders along these lines in the coming months and years.

Where things get interesting is when you use ETA clusters as part of other research projects.  You discover insights like the ones mentioned in the keynote.  You can learn more on likelihood to buy and preferred ways of working with vendors.   And the list goes on.   Gartner will be increasingly using the ETA framework as part of our research projects, with ETAs providing another, often more effective way, to group organizations for comparison.

We’ll also continue to explore how vendors and service providers can use ETAs to refine their go-to-market strategies.  We’ll refresh some of our older notes that leveraged the original EPP terms, but also produce new research, including a soon to be published piece written by me and Suzanne White that looks at the use of ETAs in Account Based Marketing programs.

The more I work with this, the more interesting it becomes.  I admit it is loaded with acronyms, three letter ones for that matter.  But when you take a little bit of time to understand it (How many people don’t know their MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator)? I’m INTJ.  If you know Myers-Briggs, you know your acronym) it’s not hard to follow.  From there, its all about the connections to other research and actions that follow.

The story for ETAs is really just beginning.    We’ll be taking it down a number of known paths and I fully expect some other ones to emerge over time.   Where we will end up is yet to be determined. I’m looking forward to continuing the exploration.

Category: go-to-market  

Tags: digital-transformation  enterprise-personality-profiles  enterprise-technology-adoption-profiles  epp  eta-profiles  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
5+ years at Gartner
30 years IT Industry

Hank Barnes provides research and advisory services on go-to-market strategies for technology providers. He focuses on issues related to positioning, storytelling, the technology customer life cycle, and customer experience. Read Full Bio




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