New H&K survey highlights growing impact of digital on purchasing decisions

posted by Brendan Hodgson

A short while ago my tech practice compatriots – in Canada and globally – released the results of a survey on the information sources technology decision makers (TDMs) relied upon most to drive their purchasing decisions. The results are compelling, and certainly speak to the growing influence of social media on business outcomes.

In an interview with Robert Scoble that took place earlier this month, my colleague and H&K’s global technology practice leader, Josh Reynolds, offered some insightful context around the numbers: that TDM’s continue to place strong emphasis on the credibility and reputation of vendors; that consumer-generated media is becoming as influential as traditional media in shaping reputation; and that purchasing decisions are increasingly being driven by a mix of traditional and non-traditional sources – media, analysts, and (today) bloggers.

You can review a summary of the findings here. I’ve also included my thoughts on what these findings represent:

  1. As Josh explains so eloquently, the evolving communications climate is pushing companies to “shut up and listen”. Without question, listening is vital. But at some point, the decision to jump in and participate has to take place - and yet be done in a way that (as the survey shows) is credible, transparent, and adds value to the debate, discussion, etc.
  2. It’s also interesting to note that while the influence of third-parties (traditional and non-traditional) is growing, a sphere of influencer that might need to be more closely analyzed are those who represent the technology vendors themselves – the subject matter experts such as the engineers, developers etc. who are able to take the conversation beyond “spin” and sound bites. 
  3. This is important, more so given that as many as a quarter of survey respondents indicated that they would not verify facts with a vendor if they read unfavourable information on a blog or elsewhere about that vendor and its products or services (see slide 8-9). Companies must be proactive in addressing misinformation – intentional or not – or else risk decision makers looking elsewhere if negative assertions are left unchallenged / unanswered.
  4. And while it is certainly encouraging to see that a number of Canadian tech blogs are identified as trusted sources for Canadian TDMs, the fact that a sizeable number of these influential blogs are also situated in the US and UK (the usual suspects: TechCrunch, Gizmodo, Slashdot, the Register etc.) raises some interesting issues – particularly for organizations that are headquartered in the US or elsewhere, but have branch offices spread across the world, each with their own marketing mandates. Communications and marketing teams at both the global and local levels will need to be much more closely aligned in light of this increasingly ‘borderless’ information landscape where influence is not bound by geography.

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