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Your new buyer: How to talk your many customers' languages

How to talk your many customers' languages.

According to Forrester Research, “Enterprises – business and government globally – will be spending $602 billion on telecom services in 2017.” And as we collectively look to digitally transform the enterprise and leverage cloud for new and improved ways of doing business, purchasing decision makers have specific agendas. They have particular objectives and are looking for ways to justify their technology spend. It’s imperative to understand the motivations and goals of these leaders at the proverbial tech purchasing table because there is enormous opportunity and you are in a unique position to help get them “there.”

Let’s start with the CFO. This individual now has to work hand-in-hand with the Chief Risk or Security Officer, as well as the IT Director and CIO, to tackle the company-wide consideration of cybersecurity (insurance, protection/safeguards, talent and incident response). As CFO magazine puts it, “cybersecurity is no longer seen as a technology risk, but rather as a business-critical financial risk. And that puts cybersecurity squarely within the purview of the CFO.” Cybersecurity solutions are slowly shifting into a different budget category, allowing CFOs to flex their decision making muscles and manage a company’s financial wellbeing and exposure to overall risk. 

A Gartner prediction from 2012 states that the CMO will outspend the CIO on technology. Today, that prediction is coming to fruition. Gartner reported that in 2016, CMOs allocated 3.24% of revenue to technology spending, while CIOs allocated 3.4% of revenue for IT services. Now, will the marketing department ever make purchasing decisions on systems that keep a company up and running, like connectivity, network automation or even the phone systems? Probably not anytime soon, but they certainly have influence on them because the CMO or CDO (Chief Digital Officer) is predominately focused on digital transformation.

Digital discussions lead to greater IT spend. For example, conversations around video encourage bandwidth upgrades. Likewise, the emergence of new marketing automation software or social media tools lead to integration with established ERP systems, and the growth of mobile workforce connectivity and collaboration needs affect company voice and video solutions. The customer experience manager requires improved BI and cloud capabilities in contact center solutions; the list goes on.

As marketing looks for ways to improve efficiencies through automation and increasing digital marketing programs, Gartner reiterates its prediction that CMOs will spend more on marketing technologies than CIOs spend on IT in 2017. It’s important to note, as Gartner reports, that at least some aspects of sales, IT and customer experience reports to the CMO. Gartner’s Research Vice President, Robert Anderson writes, “marketing is now responsible for critical customer-facing, revenue-generating systems and applications.”

Taking a 360-degree view on IT budgets, they seem to be increasing to satisfy specific purposes. Top priorities for the coming year include security, business process applications and network infrastructure, with the intention to enhance access and performance. According to a recent survey conducted by 451 Research titled Voice of the Enterprise: Hosting and Cloud Managed Services, 2017 is the year for cloud and hosting services. IT professionals and CIOs will spend more than a third of their budgets on applications, management and security services (up from 28% last year). Opportunity exists for bundled and managed services, and buyers have large appetites for it.

CIOs’ priorities are changing. In addition to managing P&Ls, the chief information officer or chief technologist is also looking to digitally transform the enterprise. They’re looking for creative ways to reduce capital expenditure, shift to cloud offerings, and improve the customer experience. Other considerations include security and the hiring of personnel with the right skillset to manage new cloud solutions and data, along with compliancy with industry legislation.

Further context into stakeholder initiatives combined with industry trend knowledge makes for more powerful business discussions. Selling partners have a rare perspective as an outsider looking in. With varying C-suite and leader agendas, we are uniquely positioned to align stakeholders and bring to the table technology solutions that coalesce ideas, create commonalities and solve multiple initiatives within an organization.

 

 About the Author
As Director of Marketing at TBI, Cohen is responsible for managing TBI’s marketing communications and implementing multi-channel branding and press strategies. In addition to driving TBI’s overall marketing strategy, Cohen directs both internal and external communications to ensure the delivery of valued products and programs to providers and partners alike. You can contact Corey at ccohen@tbicom.com or connect with her on LinkedIn.