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Has the Pandemic Made All Companies Recognize The Strategic Value of Technology?

By Hank Barnes | January 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

In short. No.

I bring this up because I’m hearing a lot of universal declarations that dealing with the pandemic has basically forced every organization to become enlightened about the role technology plays in business today.   I wish it were the case, but the data from our recent surveys–conducted during the pandemic–does not strengthen that story.

Part of our work in surveying buyers of technology is to include a set of questions that help us determine the Enterprise Technology Adoption profile of the organization.  ETAs use an algorithm we developed to group companies based on attitudes toward technology, with a focus on their approach to planning, control, and pace of change.   We regularly see much more insightful findings when grouping companies by ETAs than traditional firmographics.

During the pandemic, Gartner has been revving up our engine with a variety of different studies focused on understanding buyer behavior, both during and independent from the pandemic.   We’ve had over 4000 respondents across a variety of industries, locations, and enterprise sizes.   One of the questions we include to determine in the ETAs is this one:

Please finish the sentence, technology usually…

  1. underpins our business operations but does not differentiate us
  2. is a business enabler and mechanism to drive efficiency
  3. plays an important and increase role within the business
  4. touches every aspect of the business and adds significant value
  5. is critical to the success and growth of the business

Here is how the responses fall across those 4000+ respondents:

Source: Gartner Inc.

Only a third of respondents viewed technology as either critical or a significant value add to the business.   We did have many respondents tell us that their attitudes have changed during the pandemic, but most are uncertain if those will sustain after it is over.

That paints a different picture, doesn’t it.   And we know from prior research that those who don’t view technology strategically often have significant regrets and struggle to get value from their investments in technology.

But what else can we interpret from this data.

First, change happens fast and slow.    The pandemic has forced behavior changes, but for those that view technology tactically, it likely comes with challenges.  Even if they make some, for them, riskier decisions, they may struggle with implementation and roll-out.  If you win deals with these type of organizations, put extra effort into helping them get value–the payoff for you could be much bigger than one successful customer.  You might help them embrace new attitudes for the long term that bode well for them–and you.  I’ve spoken to clients that have won business with these type of companies during the pandemic and even when they know they need to move faster, they find all kinds of excuses for not progressing.

Second, don’t make your lead story that “everyone understands technology’s strategic value.”  Many still don’t (or don’t think it is for their business).   Qualify and probe to determine the attitudes and adjust your approach accordingly.   Yes, they should, but you need a story that makes it relevant to their organization and provides pathways to progress.

What are the organizations doing that are trying to balance the forced changes they are experiencing now with a desire for reduced risk.    I’ll be sharing that story soon.

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