B2B Marketers need to understand the role of today’s IT organization to gain insights into technology purchases (decision makers, approvers, recommenders and influencers) that will help them market more effectively.

IDG Enterprise conducted a survey to provide in-depth information about the evolving role and influence of IT decision-makers in today’s corporations. Some findings that were particularly of interest for B2B marketers are summarized below.

IT Organizational Structures

When IT and business personnel in small and medium-sized enterprises representing all major industries were asked which of the following best describes how their company’s IT organization is structured today, respondents replied:

  • Centralized 55% – the CIO controls centralized IT assets and budgets
    • 66% in companies with less than 1,000 employees
    • 42% in companies with greater than 1,000 employees
  • Federated 37% – some decisions and budget are centralized but other decisions and assets are distributed
    • 26% in companies with less than 1,000 employees
    • 50% in companies with greater than 1,000 employees
  • Decentralized 8% – each IT business unit is fully independent when it comes to IT projects and budgets
    • 8% in companies with less than 1,000 employees
    • 8% in companies with greater than 1,000 employees

When this same audience was asked if they were satisfied with this IT model, 79% communicated satisfaction with the current IT model:

  • Enterprise respondents expressed approval 73% of the time
  • Small Medium Businesses (SMB) respondents approved of this model 83% of the time

When asked about whether the IT model in place was the right IT model to support the business requirements of the future, 56% were supportive of that statement:

  • Enterprise respondents voted affirmatively 52% of the time
  • SMB respondents agreed 60% of the time

CEOs on Technology & Business Innovation

From the top down, 58% of respondents communicated that their CEOs promote technology as a critical or high priority to drive business innovation. Specifically:

  • 41% of CEOs stated promote technology is a high priority for business innovation
  • 17% stated it is was a critical priority
  • 29% stated it was a moderate priority
  • 7% stated is was a low priority
  • 6% stated it was not a priority or that they were not sure

The IT Transformation

IT is becoming more integrated into the business and a great leading indicator of this is the make-up of the CIO. In the 1990’s and before, CIOs were traditionally very technical computer science people who rose through the ranks over a couple of decades. Often times, the soon-to-be CIO started his or her career as a developer or systems administrator and then progressed to manager, director, vice president and finally CIO.

Around the year 2000 the business climate began to change as technology purchases were expanding beyond infrastructure, databases and tools to ERP, SCM, CRM, SFA, BI, analytics, etc. Furthermore, the tide moved from on-premise software to subscription based SaaS offerings with the focus on business users. As such, businesses began to transform the CIO function by staffing the IT function with individuals possessing business backgrounds. This shift was based on the premise that business thinking needed to be applied to solve business problems. Today, many organizations believe that the CIO or IT should not be a pendulum swing to the left (business) or right (IT) but a hybrid approach.

When respondents in centralized IT models were asked if they ever moved from an IT to a business role or vice versa:

  • 52% responded no
  • 48% responded yes

When asked where they moved from and to:

  • 15% had moved from an IT to a business role
  • 16% had moved from a business to an IT role
  • 30% had moved from a business or IT role into a role straddling both functions

When respondents in federated IT models were asked if they ever moved from an IT to a business role or vice versa:

  • 47% responded no
  • 53% responded yes

When asked where they moved from and to:

  • 14% had moved from an IT to a business role
  • 17% had moved from a business to an IT role
  • 32% had moved from a business or IT role into a role straddling both functions

When respondents in decentralized IT models were asked if, they ever moved from an IT to a business role or vice versa:

  • 48% responded no
  • 52% responded yes

When asked where they moved from and to:

  • 13% had moved from an IT to a business role
  • 16% had moved from a business to an IT role
  • 33% had moved from a business or IT role into a role straddling both functions

Bottom Line – IT Organizations & Technology Purchases

It’s clear that IT is no longer confined to that glass house, in a silo on a floor of the building in which only computer science people worked. Organizations have realized that it is the application to solve business problems that provides positive business outcomes — and that requires a mix of technical and business capabilities. Organizations selling technology need to understand the make-up of today’s IT model in order to develop and execute the go-to-market strategies that will effectively position and sell their technology solutions.

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