Buying technology: Who's calling the shots?

Tech-savvy workers and emphasis on costs are changing the way businesses procure IT...

Buying technology has traditionally been the realm of the CIO or IT director, but it seems that situation is changing, as technology becomes increasingly integral to the way businesses operate.

More people are knowledgeable about technology than a decade ago and these individuals are keen to be part of the decision-making process for its acquisition for their business.

Meanwhile, executives above the CIO are taking a more active role in technology decisions while people lower down the hierarchy also want to have a say about the technology they use to do their job. The CIO still plays an important part but things are changing.

Business managers are becoming more involved

Technology is no longer something that just a chosen few know about in organisations, and business processes increasingly involve technology in some shape or form. As a result, other business departments are taking part in buying decisions.

Speaking to, Gartner VP and fellow Andy Kyte said the increased role of technology in business is a major factor in a shift in technology procurement.

Business managers becoming more involved in buying technology

Business managers are becoming much more involved in technology-buying decisions than in the past
Photo: Shutterstock

"The key here is that we have ubiquitous and pervasive technology and what that means is there's an awful lot of purchases that are made which include technology in them. That doesn't necessarily mean the buyer thinks they're buying technology - but an increasing number of decisions that involve technology are being taken outside the IT organisation," Kyte told

Ovum analyst Mark Blowers said IT is now integral to a lot of organisations. "A few years ago perhaps IT could sign off and make the decisions because people said, 'Oh, we don't know much about it' but I think that's becoming less and less common now," he added.

In the past, business managers would have asked the IT department for a technology implementation and waited for it to be delivered. In many cases, they are now much more closely involved in specifying systems so that they serve their business needs.

"[Business managers] are much, much more savvy and they're not prepared to delegate anymore - and some of them want to take the lead. What we're really seeing is that there are no more technology decisions - there are business decisions which require technology input," Kyte said.

So an HR director wanting to outsource payroll or a sales director looking to implement software as a service (SaaS) CRM now sees these projects as business decisions rather than technology ones, even though they have a significant impact on internal tech infrastructure.

The integral nature of technology, combined with the pressure business managers are under to cut costs, beat competition and innovate, means...