Most of us can (vaguely) remember life before COVID-19: business optimism and aggressive purchasing plans for 2020. Six months into the pandemic, how have IT buying plans and practices changed? Two recent research reports provide answers.
The report COVID-19’s Impact on IT: Tech trends before, during and after the crisis from Spiceworks Ziff Davis (SWZD) details how the pandemic has altered the business technology landscape. For example:
- In 2018, only 13% of employees worked remotely most of the time.
- In 2019, “69% of businesses had video conferencing tools such as Zoom and WebEx, but only half used them frequently.”
- At the beginning of 2020, a whopping 88% of companies expected their IT budgets to stay the same or grow this year.
- Since the pandemic hit, 25% of businesses say they will spend less than planned on technology this year, and another 14% are unsure of how budgets will be affected.
The virus caught most enterprises off guard. Just 14% of companies say they were “fully prepared for the effects of the public health crisis” when it hit–and that 14% figure may be optimistic.
Over the spring and summer, IT purchasing priorities, not surprisingly, shifted to pandemic-related needs to supporting a remote work force. As this graphic shows, that included products like firewalls and VPNs, video conferencing software, and team collaboration tools.
The good news for B2B tech vendors outside those specific areas is that nearly half of all IT spending is now targeted towards more general business needs.
Looking to the future beyond COVID-19, 80% of IT professionals believe they will continue to work from home at least part-time. And 80% of businesses plan to keep flexible work arrangements in place post-pandemic.
For B2B technology marketers, in-person events are pretty much out for the moment. Reaching people by phone is difficult, and standard email marketing is less effective.
However, channels that still work well include webinars and online events (if compelling and well done), display ads, and “content syndication via email.”
Another report from SWZD, B2B Buying Trends: IT Purchase Channel Preferences During the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond, looks at the preferred buying channels for IT buyers in the current environment. Among the key findings:
“Overall value” is one of the top factors influencing purchases of IT hardware, software, and services. Enterprise buys also place high importance on long-term relationships and access to technical expertise.
In terms of preferred channels, “Direct manufacturers and online retailers both earned top marks for offering the best overall value,” while “Managed service providers (MSPs) earned the highest scores for being able to service all IT needs and reducing the burden on IT departments.”
And though “the majority of IT buyers (63%) said they actively try to reduce the number of vendors they purchase tech from,” most still rely on a wide range of providers. Most large enterprise buy from 16 or more vendors. 38% of enterprises do business with 26 or more technology providers.
Download both of these reports from SWZD to get all the details.