Influencing Cloud Buyers' (Not So) Collective Choices
August 18, 2021

Peter Tsai

Share this

We have good and bad news for cloud vendors catching their breath post-pandemic: there's little time to rest. The boom of buyers adopting cloud tech to support the initial rush to remote work in 2020 might be behind us, but that was only the beginning.

In 2021, Spiceworks Ziff Davis (SWZD) conducted a survey of 500+ cloud decision makers — 300+ IT decision makers (ITDMs) and 200+ business decision makers (BDMs) — to gain insights into buying patterns a year into the pandemic as the demand for tech to support flexible work arrangements rises.

The survey says: A whopping 80% of decision makers said that cloud technologies are useful for supporting remote workers. Also, organizations with flexible work policies are more likely to use cloud technologies — and make a decision to buy them more quickly: 31% of organizations that have flexible remote work arrangements complete the cloud buying process in less than three months vs. 25% of organizations that don't allow remote work.

Analysis revealed insights on the cloud buying collective — a group of stakeholders in an organization that influences tech purchase decisions — including some unexpected differences between the ITDMs and BDMs within them.

Don't worry: Engaging buyers isn't complicated, if you know who they are and what they're looking for (or better yet, how they look for it).

Cloudy with a Chance of Adoption

The move to the cloud shows no signs of slowing down in the coming years, even as some of the workforce returns to physical offices. By 2023, 67% of companies plan to adopt at least one new type of cloud technology, and 50% of all business workloads are expected to run in the cloud.

Among the many technologies companies going remote will leverage — cloud-file sharing, cloud backup and recovery, cloud-based storage, software-as-a-service, etc. — solutions to secure cloud infrastructure and cloud-based security solutions are poised to see the most adoption growth over the next two years (18 and 16 percentage points, respectively), with usage accelerating at an even faster rate among businesses that support remote workers.

For example, a majority of companies (51%) that support flexible work plan to adopt solutions for securing cloud infrastructure by 2023, compared to only 28% of companies that don't support flexible work arrangements.

The Collective Choice on Cloud

In the vast majority of organizations (91%), there's a buying collective, meaning there's no single decision maker that exclusively owns the entire cloud buying process. Instead, 6 - 8 decision makers within an organization comprise the "buying collective" on average. These stakeholders tend to consider the purchase through their own unique lens, and their views influence their organization's final decision to varying degrees throughout the buying journey.

There are two main groups of players in the cloud buying collective: ITDMs and BDMs. ITDMs determine needs on the front end, evaluate solutions, and advise BDMs on purchase decisions. BDMs approve funds for purchases, make final purchase decisions, and sign-off on purchases.

While these two groups play different roles in the buying process, they do agree on some things. When these stakeholders research potential solutions, ITDMs and BDMs both believe it's most important that technologies offer reliability/availability, ease-of-use, satisfactory total cost of ownership (TCO), and adequate security capabilities/features.

When looking for information about a cloud product, both ITDMs and BDMs also seek transparent pricing information, product demos/walkthroughs, detailed product specs/technical information, deployment guides/documentation, and side-by-side feature comparisons of similar products.

When it comes to cost, however, the two groups see things a little differently:

■ 62% of BDMs believe using public cloud is cheaper than self-hosting applications, while only 46% of ITDMs believe this to be true.

■ 55% of BDMs say their organizations would rather pay for tech infrastructure as an operational expense (OpEx) rather than a less frequent but larger capital expense (compared to 47% if ITDMs).

■ 44% of BDMs in the US said their organization prefers OpEx over CapEx, compared to only 27% of ITDMs.

■ 59% of BDMs said using cloud services can reduce the need for developing specialized IT skills and expertise in-house, compared to 50% of ITDMs.

■ BDMs are more likely than ITDMs (49% vs. 39%) to believe their organization follows a "cloud-first" technology strategy.

Connecting with Cloud Buyers

Marketers selling cloud solutions will be most effective at engaging members of the buying collective by understanding the pain-points of both ITDMs and BDMs, and tailoring content and outreach efforts for each group.

Additionally, both groups believe specific types of content best help them understand what it's like to use a cloud solution (e.g., demos/walk throughs, how-to guides, hands-on labs, product reviews).

Notice the one thing each of these content types have in common?

They each give the buyer an opportunity to "try before they buy" or offer a better sense of what it's like to actually use the cloud solution, whether that's through use of the interface, peer feedback, or online video.

In many cases, cloud buyers want to connect with brands as much as marketers want to engage with them. To optimize their marketing efforts, cloud vendors need to understand what their buyers really want, and cater to their content needs.

Interested in learning more? Check out our more in-depth cloud research on

Peter Tsai is Head of Technology Insights at SWZD
Share this

The Latest

September 22, 2021

The world's appetite for cloud services has increased but now, more than 18 months since the beginning of the pandemic, organizations are assessing their cloud spend and trying to better understand the IT investments that were made under pressure. This is a huge challenge in and of itself, with the added complexity of embracing hybrid work ...

September 21, 2021

After a year of unprecedented challenges and change, tech pros responding to this year’s survey, IT Pro Day 2021 survey: Bring IT On from SolarWinds, report a positive perception of their roles and say they look forward to what lies ahead ...

September 20, 2021

One of the key performance indicators for IT Ops is MTTR (Mean-Time-To-Resolution). MTTR essentially measures the length of your incident management lifecycle: from detection; through assignment, triage and investigation; to remediation and resolution. IT Ops teams strive to shorten their incident management lifecycle and lower their MTTR, to meet their SLAs and maintain healthy infrastructures and services. But that's often easier said than done, with incident triage being a key factor in that challenge ...

September 16, 2021

Achieve more with less. How many of you feel that pressure — or, even worse, hear those words — trickle down from leadership? The reality is that overworked and under-resourced IT departments will only lead to chronic errors, missed deadlines and service assurance failures. After all, we're only human. So what are overburdened IT departments to do? Reduce the human factor. In a word: automate ...

September 15, 2021

On average, data innovators release twice as many products and increase employee productivity at double the rate of organizations with less mature data strategies, according to the State of Data Innovation report from Splunk ...

September 14, 2021

While 90% of respondents believe observability is important and strategic to their business — and 94% believe it to be strategic to their role — just 26% noted mature observability practices within their business, according to the 2021 Observability Forecast ...

September 13, 2021

Let's explore a few of the most prominent app success indicators and how app engineers can shift their development strategy to better meet the needs of today's app users ...

September 09, 2021

Business enterprises aiming at digital transformation or IT companies developing new software applications face challenges in developing eye-catching, robust, fast-loading, mobile-friendly, content-rich, and user-friendly software. However, with increased pressure to reduce costs and save time, business enterprises often give a short shrift to performance testing services ...

September 08, 2021

DevOps, SRE and other operations teams use observability solutions with AIOps to ingest and normalize data to get visibility into tech stacks from a centralized system, reduce noise and understand the data's context for quicker mean time to recovery (MTTR). With AI using these processes to produce actionable insights, teams are free to spend more time innovating and providing superior service assurance. Let's explore AI's role in ingestion and normalization, and then dive into correlation and deduplication too ...

September 07, 2021

As we look into the future direction of observability, we are paying attention to the rise of artificial intelligence, machine learning, security, and more. I asked top industry experts — DevOps Institute Ambassadors — to offer their predictions for the future of observability. The following are 10 predictions ...