As businesses seek technology solutions that help us prepare for a new post-pandemic normal, cloud adoption rates continue to rise. In fact, according to new research, 67% of all companies plan to adopt at least one new cloud technology by 2023.

Spiceworks Ziff Davis (SWZD) studies revealed there are groups of key stakeholders that influence or make decisions about cloud technologies within each organisation — known as the “buying collective” — generally composed of IT decision-makers (ITDMs) and business decision-makers (BDMs). ITDMs are gatekeepers that determine technology needs on the front end, evaluate and compare solutions, and advise on purchase decisions before handing it off to BDMs for final approvals.

These decision makers, though working towards the same goal of finding a cloud solution that fits their organisational needs, are far from a united front as they progress through the buyer’s journey:

* Most ITDMs (64%) prefer to do the majority of their tech purchase research online without speaking to a salesperson.

* BDMs are more willing to speak to a human: 59% would provide their name, email, and phone number to view interesting, gated content.

* Only 41% of ITDMs trust that BDMs understand technology well enough to make informed IT purchase decisions.

“Our research indicates that 80% of decision makers believe cloud technologies are useful for supporting remote workers. As businesses continue to support work-from-home policies, they will seek solutions to enable employees to work from anywhere,” says Peter Tsai, head of technology insights at SWZD. “In this environment, it’s critical for vendors to understand the needs and motivations driving stakeholders’ decisions throughout the buyer’s journey.”

Insight into the behaviors and patterns exhibited by the buying collective, and each stakeholder within it, enables cloud marketers to effectively align messaging to their prospects’ stage in the buyer’s journey. The findings detailed in SWZD’s Cloud Buying Collective research offer a more granular look into the past, current, and future behaviors of ITDMs and BDMs as they relate to cloud technology adoption trends.

Meet the cloud buying collective

SWZD uses the phrase “buying collective” to represent a group of stakeholders involved in purchase decisions, varying in number depending on the size of the organisation.

Because the buying collective influences their organization’s technology spend, the first step to aligning sales processes with the buyer’s journey is fully understanding decision makers’ pain points and how current trends in their behavior are shaping the cloud buying landscape.

On average, six to eight key stakeholders collectively make the decision whether or not to purchase a given cloud technology. Though the length of the buyer’s journey varies, it’s important to note that it’s often longer at larger enterprises, which typically have a larger buying collective consisting of 10 decision makers on average.

While each group generally has their respective function within the buying process, BDMs generally trust ITDMs to make decisions and recommendations with respect to their business savvy: 72% of BDMs said ITDMs understand business needs well enough to make informed decisions.

However, ITDMs don’t necessarily feel the same way. While 58% of BDMs self-reported understanding technology well enough to make informed purchase decisions, only 41% of ITDMs agreed.

Given their conflicting perspectives on the technology purchase process, content that engages a cost-conscious BDM likely won’t engage a detail-oriented ITDM.

Successfully navigating the buyer’s journey requires marketers to further tailor messaging to each function’s operative stage in the journey itself.

ITDMs versus BDMs

According to the research, ITDMs are involved in 88% of cloud purchases and play a central role from beginning to end in determining needs, evaluating solutions, and advising business decision makers on purchase decisions. BDMs play a critical role in approving funds for purchases, making final purchases decisions, and signing off on purchases.

While most decision makers prefer to conduct their research online for tech purchases, there are key differences between these stakeholders to consider.

In the absence of a tangible product with cloud-based solutions, it’s important for ITDMs to understand what it’s like to use the product through demos/walkthroughs, tech spec sheets, how-to guides, hands-on labs, and webinars before their organisation makes a commitment.

Conversely, BDMs tend to gravitate towards the opinions of existing users and analysts with preferences for content that includes interviews, case studies, testimonials, and third-party research. They’re also more receptive to advertising or podcasts when evaluating a cloud-based solution.

In addition, BDMs are more willing to talk to sales, and have fewer reservations about sharing personal information. When asked how much data they would share to view interesting gated content, 59% of BDMs said they would provide their name, email, and phone number, compared to only 45% of ITDMs.

Additionally, more IT buyers in large companies (40%) are likely to give out their phone numbers or physical addresses compared to medium sized companies (29%).

As cloud vendors seek to differentiate themselves in a market rife with competition, they must consider ways to align their offering with evolving buyer behaviors and prepare to address inevitable pain points.

Vendors that weave cloud purchase patterns — of both individual stakeholders and their combined collective — into their go-to-market strategy position marketing efforts to be much more agile and proactive. This approach enables cloud marketers to target the right person, with the right message, at the right time.