Are you Targeting the Right IT Decision Makers?

It’s not CIOs, but CFOs and business units who reign supreme in the financial decision making process for IT investments, this according to a recent survey by CFO Research Services and SearchCIO.

The research on CIO / CFO alignment surveyed 382 senior finance executives and 300 senior IT executives working for a wide variety of $100M and larger worldwide companies, revealing that:

1) Economic diligence is an important element of the decision making process,

2) Business groups as much or more responsible than CIOs in developing the ROI justification business case,

3) CFOs are large and in charge of approvals.


Show Me the Money
CFOs and CIOs both understand that in this current environment of Frugalnomics, it is vital to provide cost justification on any significant IT investment. The survey indicated the priority business impact elements similarly for finance and IT, as clearly defined improvements in business results, payback / ROI, impact on customer experience and impact on business growth.

Advice: Business case justification remains a vital element of your customers’  decision making process. However, if your customers are like the majority, they struggle to develop the financial models and metrics proof points on their own (2/3rds according to IDC).

As a result, to free up stuck deals and reduce sales cycle delays, your content marketing programs and sales professionals must engage with ROI / financial analysis tools and business case justification reports.


It’s Called a “Business” Case for a Reason
Business users and groups are much more involved in developing the business case for IT investments than you would have thought.

According to the survey, 51% of respondents report that business unit management is most responsible for preparing the justification case, compared to 48% indicating that CIOs were responsible.

Advice: Your content marketing and sales professionals must transcend the technical messaging, and engage with business unit execs, to help quantify the specific tangible benefits and justification that matters uniquely to the business users and groups.

Finance Large and in Charge
On the question of funding for technology investments, the survey results “left little doubt that the CFO is decider-in-chief”, with 65% identifying the CFO as the person in charge of approving technology expenditures.

Advice: Implement the tools needed to stimulate engagement with finance early and often in the decision making process, and arm customer stakeholders with the business case justification needed to “sell” the program upwards to frugal CFOs.


The Bottom Line
The way IT investment decisions are made is quickly evolving, and it’s vital that your content marketing and sales strategies keep pace in order to avoid stalled deals, reduce sales cycle delays, and improve win rates.
Based on the research, our immediate advice:

1) Invest more in value marketing and selling tools to satisfy the justification needs of both financial and IT buyers,

2) Engage beyond IT, to the business units with tools to quantify unique benefits to individual stakeholders, particularly business and user groups, who are playing a more dominant role in business case justification,

3) Engage upwards, directly or via your champion, to financial executives and CFOs, with the analysis tools and reports to help them verify economic impact and garner financial approval.


To learn more about the need and value selling and marketing strategies for improving IT engagements, click here.

Source: Uncrossing the Wires: Starting—and Sustaining—the Conversation on Technology Value  by CFO Research Services and SearchCIO, May 2012

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