Choosing New Software
Many companies and departments have ‘choosing new software’ on their to-do list. But thanks to innovative technologies and trends sweeping through the enterprise software market, how SMBs and even larger corporations find and select software is changing. Here are the trends that we see shaping software purchasing in 2014:
1) Buyers will have the upper hand. Just as we’ve seen in our consumer lives, peer reviews and online information will drive smarter business software purchase decisions. In the past, buyers had to rely on vendors to share demos, pricing, and customer references. Now software buyers can access other customers directly on review sites and get aggregated data on actual discount levels and terms. According to Sirius Decisions research, B2B buyers complete 67 percent of their journey online prior to engaging the vendor and a sales rep. In 2014, software buyers will start to shop much more like car buyers and know exactly what they want and the price they want to pay before talking to a vendor.
2) Buyers will leverage social signals. With the emergence of Twitter and LinkedIn, buyers have direct access to unfiltered comments and sentiments from peers in real-time. Buyers will increasingly rely on recommendations and insights sourced from people they follow and connect with.
3) Big data will provide buyers new insights on vendor performance. Rather than relying on just marketing data from vendors and dated analyst research, buyers can access synthesized, aggregated data sourced from online sources such as Twitter, Klout, LinkedIn, Alexa, Google Trends, and Crunchbase that can provide real-time insights on momentum and a vendor scale.
4) SMB will buy the same software as powerful large enterprises. Today SMBs, mid-market companies, and large corporations can often use the same cloud and mobile software (albeit with different configurations and workflows). Salesforce.com pioneered this cloud model by serving a broad range of companies from one cloud CRM platform, and this trend has spread to marketing, HR, BI, and even financial applications.
5) Software buyers will look to online reviews when making purchase decisions. For 72 percent of consumers, online reviews are the biggest driver when making a purchase decision, according to Social Media Today. In 2014 we expect business buyers to behave the same way and use peer reviews rather than analyst reports to build their short lists. It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, for one person or even a handful of people to have enough knowledge and experience with an entire category of products to provide sufficient analysis and comparisons of all the products on a buyer’s shortlist.
Overall, in 2014 we expect enterprise software buying to mirror the trends that have changed the way we make purchases in our consumer lives. Instead of using analyst reports to select a large software suite, software buyers will turn to peer reviews to find mobile-optimized cloud applications that meet their business needs. Executives from all departments, not just IT, will do their own research to find and purchase the disruptive technologies that will help them do their jobs more efficiently. Power is shifting to the buyer, and 2014 could be a major turning point in how everyone from SMBs to large corporations select their software.
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