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Meeting the New CX Challenges for IT Buyers

Denis Putilov Alamy Stock Photo.jpg

Image: Denis Putilov - Alamy Stock Photo
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the changes in contact center technology buying decisions and how the last two years’ revolution in customer experience (CX) was tending to drive these decisions up the enterprise food chain, in some cases as high as the C-level. Metrigy is now out with further data that confirms that in many enterprises, contact center/CX buying decisions are evolving.
In a recent post on No Jitter, Metrigy CEO and Principal Analyst Robin Gareiss presents a wealth of fascinating data points on the CC/CX buying decision. You should definitely read the whole thing, but I was especially struck by Metrigy’s data on the role that the various stakeholders within the enterprise play in making the decision.
Just under 12% of enterprises said they prefer the IT department to be the sole point of interaction for the vendor, while the largest group of respondents, 41.7%, “say they prefer technology providers to hold joint sessions with both IT and business leaders to discuss technology details and explain business value,” Gareiss writes.
But here’s the number that really caught my eye: Almost one-third (31.1%), “say they prefer [vendor] companies explain the technology details to IT, and the IT staff then explains to business leaders how it will address their problem or opportunity.” Combine that with the 12% that want IT to have the sole responsibility, and you’ve actually got slightly more than the number that wants joint-vendor meetings.
That puts a daunting responsibility on IT’s shoulders, and Gareiss is right to characterize the situation with IT as the middleman between the business and the vendor as risky.
This is a critical point for IT/communications professionals. Making big technology bets has always been risky, but with today’s CC/CX purchase decisions, they can’t fall back on, “You can’t get fired for buying [insert vendor name here].” No safe choice exists that fits all the circumstances because the business isn’t asking for an all-purpose solution — it’s demanding a solution upon which it can build its highly specific customer contact/experience strategy and implementation. You can’t satisfy that demand unless you have a thorough understanding of what, exactly, the enterprise needs — and what each of the vendors offers.
“You can’t get fired for buying ‘X’” was more about overpaying than about features and functions anyway. You knew that buying IBM, Cisco, or whoever, would meet the enterprise’s needs — the mission-critical technology would get the job done. You might just pay a higher price for the assurance.
In the Enterprise Connect 2022 session I wrote about last month, the vendor executives on the panel discussed contact center decisions in the context of IT losing some level of authority as marketing organizations or C-level executives demanded more control over the process and choices. While that might be frustrating to IT/communications professionals, at least it doesn’t leave them alone on the hook for a decision that could very directly affect the company’s bottom line.
Most of the IT folks I know aren’t looking for an easy way out, which they’re ultimately not going to find in any scenario anyway. I think they believe their expertise can make a difference and help the enterprise make a technology decision that is the best fit for the business. I don’t know any that would want to go into a major procurement without understanding the business needs they have to solve.
So regardless of who’s making the ultimate decision, the only way forward is for IT to have a deep understanding of the business and an ability to convey to business leaders what technology can and can’t do. It’s not completely safe, but anymore, what is?