Gartner’s research into business technologists and the distribution of technology related budgets highlight just how much the power over technology purchases is shifting and spreading. But what about users?
By users, in this case, I’m referring to the people who work in organizations that are not in positions of power (e.g. workers, not managers and executives). Certainly, we’ve seen a growing emphasis on user experience, but there are times when vendors make the case, “Users don’t make decisions,” when justifying investment choices that lean in other directions. At the same time, we are seeing more and more evidence of the user of trials and freemium products as a way to build toward a deal. If you think about it, most of these would be evaluated by users.
With this evidence in hand, we wanted to explore if users truly have influence, power, or involvement in software decisions. To do that, we conducted a study that was focused entirely on non-managerial workers in organizations. The results have come back and are painting an interesting picture that the Gartner team will be sharing over the coming weeks and months. These are no longer a generic, unimportant set of constituents.
Some of the ideas we’ll explore:
- How do users exercise both direct and indirect influence on software deployments (where indirect might be encouraging others to reduce usage when frustrated with the experience)
- How do organizational dynamics, like Enterprise Technology Adoption profiles, influence user’s desires and actions related to software decisions
- Do all users matter? Or can we segment users into various groups that reflect their likelihood of exerting influence directly and indirectly.
- What drives users to pursue free products and how often does it turn into paid purchases?
This is just a subset of the insights that we are developing. There is a lot there.
But if I was to tease anything, I think it is this. As power and influence over technology continues to spread throughout the organization, the voice of the user will continue to grow. Savvy vendors will cultivate those voices and target programs to the users that are most likely to influence decisions to build the bottoms-up support that can be critical to successfully expanding deployments, even as they continue to work the top down path.
As a side note, this work brings back reminders to some of my earlier research and interactions related to advocacy marketing. I had quite a few clients question the value of advocacy programs since they were, in many ways, likely to be more attractive to users than decision makers. At the time, I suggested that the user support would be high value and they should think about how to cultivate that while also having programs for traditional decision makers. The current research convinces me that was the right path.
Stay tuned, and above all, don’t discount the influence and growing power of users.