Forrester Analyst: Customer Focus Spins Tech Buying Decisions In Business

The development and rise of new technologies, coupled with a business transformation that has become "obsessed" with focusing on customers, is changing how solution providers and tech vendors talk with their customers, a Forrester analyst told solution providers Tuesday.

"It's not a technology conversation anymore; it's a business conversation," Bobby Cameron said during a 45-minute presentation at the Best of Breed Conference in Atlanta, sponsored by The Channel Company, the parent of IT Best Of Breed.

"The enterprise level, the leadership team, is driving the change in how technology gets applied," he added. "That shows up [in the form of] different buyers [from across a business], it shows up in greater interdependency of the value stream, where all you resellers play. It works out in the entire mechanism of how we create and deliver value with digital being underneath."

That, in turn, is creating new customer expectations and redefining the work required to meet them, Cameron said. Entire organizations are becoming "customer-obsessed digital businesses," he added.

It's reached the point to where customers drove more than half of technology investments in 2014, Cameron said.
The shift toward the customer is also changing how businesses look at their technology stacks while making room for transformative technologies such as containers and the Internet of Things, he said.

Especially with the rise of mobile technologies, "we've transformed our understanding of what technology is supposed to be," Cameron said. "When that happens, it means that we turn around to the [corporate IT management] organization and our vendors, and say, 'Give me an app for that.'"

"We still have that expectation," he added.

A solution provider executive, Michael J. Stolarczyk, vice president of business development, cloud services, with VeriStor, based in Duluth, Georgia, said later that the digital transformation "is going to be pivotal over the next couple of years," forcing organizations to get a "strong understanding of what this means not only to their internal business but how it affects relationships with their clients and their customers."

Another solution provider executive, John Cunningham, CEO of New York-based BCM One, said businesses "have to be moving in this direction."

"It’s a unique opportunity to create needs, as opposed to, if you go back 10 years [when] the technologies dictated what the purchasing" would be, he added. "Now, you're going to talk about things like SD-WAN, but SD-WAN is an enabler."

Within end-user organizations, Cameron added, all this change has created two sources of buying decisions: the group that manages the technology and the non-technology groups that use it. In each of the last three years, according to Forrester data that Cameron displayed in his presentation, the majority of spending shifted to the non-IT business units starting in 2013.