There is much speculation about the role of telecommunications and IT analysts in the enterprise tech purchasing decision, especially in the context of the rise of social media. There is also great angst among AR professionals about whether they need to start adding bloggers to their portfolio. Unfortunately there is more speculation than hard data in all of these discussions. So what should AR teams do? It’s simple:
Ask tech buyers, especially your customers,
about the role of influencers in purchasing.
As we have said multiple times in multiple ways, it is very important for AR teams to survey their customers on the role industry analysts and others (e.g., management consultants, press, bloggers and so on) play in providing information and advice for purchasing decisions. Alas, if it was only as easy to execute this suggestion as to say it. Well, there might be a way to get this information with relative little effort requiring only a modest investment.
The Analyst Strategy Group (ASG) is currently soliciting clients for the 2008 version of its IT buyers influence study. This study was last conducted in 2005 because results of the 2002, 2003 and 2003 studies were very consistent and it was felt that there was no need to conduct it so frequently. In the intervening time since the last study there has been an explosion of social media, especially blogs, as a source of information for tech buyers. As a consequence, it was decided to run the survey again with a significant emphasis on the role of social media. ASG is consulting with SageCircle on social media, so the right questions will be asked that will address this aspect of the influence game.
There will be two sources of tech buyer contacts. First, ASG will bring a database to the table. Second, clients will have the option of contributing their customer and prospect names to the database. For those that do, they will be able to get cuts of the data that looks at all results and then the subset that is their customers.
Participating in a multi-client study is significantly less expensive than the custom consulting projects I used to commission at my former employer. However, if you make an effort to provide ASG with a sufficiently large enough list of customers, then the results could be equal to what I got for my six figure projects.
Bottom Line: Hard data about how your customers make purchasing decisions is very valuable as both inputs into your AR plans and as supporting evidence to management about their need for investment in AR.
Full Disclosure: The principals at ASG are former colleagues of Dave and Carter at SageCircle 1.0. Carter was a client of ASG’s measurement services and a sponsor of prior multi-client studies when he was the Corporate AR Director at a large vendor.