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Buyer Enablement: Digital Transformation Evolution

Digital innovation timelines will double, according to Gartner's latest predictions. Through 2021, digital transformation initiatives will take large traditional enterprises, on average, twice as long and cost twice as much as anticipated.

Large organizations will struggle with digital innovation as they recognize the challenges of information technology (IT) modernization. That said, the enterprise leaders' challenge can also translate into an opportunity for qualified IT vendors that offer help and support.

Buying a Digital Solution is Complicated

Given the potential for new upside opportunities, more IT vendors will be focused on revenue growth in 2020 and beyond. Last year, many incumbent IT vendors continued to harvest revenue from their vast installed base. Looking forward, however, some will need to raise the bar of expectations.

Goal: reach and engage 'new contacts' at existing customers, and net-new clients.

However, the IT Infrastructure market has changed. The buying process within the typical large enterprise has evolved -- it's more complex, due to the numerous decision-makers involved in the process. Several CxO personas and other key executives are now managing the vendor selection.

Demand for Buyer Experience Customization

Let's look at the current disruptive transition that has occurred within the IT infrastructure market. Previously, the CIO and the CTO were assumed to be the key decision-makers during the buyer's journey. That assumption is now outdated -- it's not that simple. Here's the reason why.

The shift to the public cloud -- and SaaS offerings in particular -- changed the procurement scenario as Line-of-Business (LoB) leaders became a champion of multifaceted 'buyer committees'. Yet, most IT vendors are unprepared to address marketing and selling within this demanding environment.

Why is that? Re-inventing a go-to-market approach is like any other form of innovation; it takes courage to let go of the old way of doing things. That said, savvy IT vendors must transform their narrative, and thereby position themselves further up the value chain.

They must evolve beyond their comfort-zone of mostly connecting with the lower-level technical influencers where they have existing relationships. Now, they have to reach out and engage the other key buyer personas that have a definitive point-of-view about their digital transformation needs.

If that includes the senior executives within the C-suite, then so be it. The boldest and bravest vendors must be armed with new and differentiated stories that translate core IT product and service offerings into strategic business outcome benefits for C-level decision-makers -- including the CFO.

Why Buying Process Segmentation Matters

According to a recent Gartner market study, the typical buying group for a complex Business-to-Business (B2B) solution involves six to ten decision makers‚ each armed with four or five pieces of information they’ve gathered independently and must deconflict with the group.

At the same time, the set of options and solutions buying groups can consider is expanding as new technologies, products, suppliers and services emerge. These dynamics make it increasingly difficult for customers to make purchases. In fact, more than three-quarters of the customers Gartner surveyed described their purchase as 'very complex or difficult'.

From a vendor's perspective, I recognize the marketing messaging that targets specific IT buyer personas is likely to be more effective, compared with a simple one-size-fits-all approach. That will require additional market segmentation and analysis, but I'm not afraid of this challenge.

I want to explore proven ways to significantly improve the 'buyer enablement' process. I already help senior B2B buyers find the actionable information and guidance they need to purchase complex IT solutions -- enabling them to achieve their business objectives. I also know that there is compelling evidence that a change in approach is long overdue.

Business Outcome-Centered Marketing

The following is from an insightful webinar, hosted by Derry Finkeldey, VP Analyst at Gartner.

Here's an incentive for marketers that choose to invest the time and effort to better understand and respond to the needs and wants of an apparently 'untapped' Industry LoB segment.

Also, targeting a buyer persona(s) with a financial interest is self-evident; they crave a business case that demonstrates how an IT investment will result in operational improvements and cost optimization.

While other buyer clusters may have common business outcome related interests, it's not clear (to me) how many versions of an IT vendor narrative are going to be required to reach the full potential of a more customized go-to-market strategy.

That's why I'm going to be seeking further market data and analysis, during the coming year. I welcome any suggestions for other sources of insight. Especially, IT vendor marketing lessons learned and associated best practices. So, feel free to reach out to me.

Visit Gartner: learn their perspective on "The New B2B Buying Journey."

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