Our third survey suggests that IT buyers are moving away from investing in remote work to focus on other critical initiatives, such as risk management and digital transformation.
Life may not have returned to prepandemic ways, but IT buyers seem to be settling into the new reality. According to our third survey of IT executives, conducted October and November 2021, buyers say they have cleared the major hurdles of remote work and are ready to increase their investments in other areas, whether adding new systems and suppliers or renewing their focus on risk management or digital transformation. In addition, they are delegating budget authority down the chain of command and becoming more at ease with remote selling. (See “Our Methodology.”)
Our previous surveys, completed in May and November 2020, revealed that IT buyers were cutting their budgets while prioritizing remote work and collaboration—investing in digital transformation, migration to the cloud, the digitization of sales and marketing, and greater security and data protections.
In contrast, many buyers expect to increase their spending in 2022—especially those in the technology, financial services, and education industries. (This is in part due to inflationary pressures, with IT buyers expecting IT prices in general to rise about 5.1%.) In addition, more than half expect to increase the number of systems or suppliers they use in areas such as AI, machine learning, cloud, analytics, and security.
Perhaps less surprising, we find buyers pulling back from the previous two years’ hyperfocus on remote work, now that they are finally able to reorient and expand their strategic agendas to include other critical initiatives. As they do, they are increasingly focused on risk management, often driven by the need for identity-and-access-management (IAM) software and solutions for managing cyber threats.
Spending plans are also being influenced by ongoing digital transformation efforts. Business-level programs are strengthening AI, machine learning, and analytics capabilities, while infrastructure-level initiatives are focused on replatforming and consolidating outsourced workloads. Nonetheless, investments in the cloud remain a priority, with less than 20% of buyers planning to shift workloads off the cloud in the next two years. Those planning to do so are mainly pulling back in the area of enterprise resource planning because of data security concerns. We also find many buyers planning to consolidate suppliers and systems, cutting redundancy.
Meanwhile, our survey reveals that IT decision making and budget authority are shifting, with senior management delegating down the chain. This shift is a result of some decentralization, as well as the need to be nimble in the market, allowing those on the front line to make rapid decisions.
Further, we find that businesses are now much more comfortable buying remotely than in the past. Although they would prefer to engage existing partners in the digital sales process, buyers are happier to bring new vendors on board today without having met them face-to-face and less concerned about signing large contracts without engaging in person. Nonetheless, vendors should keep looking for ways to improve mutual trust and personal connections in today’s hybrid environment.
You can explore some of our detailed survey findings in the slideshow below.