back to article IT departments often regret technology buying decisions

IT departments are frequently feeling the sting of buyer's remorse following big-ticket enterprise technology purchases. Fifty-six percent of organizations said they had a high degree of regret over their largest tech-related purchase in the last two years, according to a new survey of 1,120 executives in North America, …

  1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Psychographics

    I had to look that one up:

    "the study and classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria, especially in market research."

    I recall many years ago, there was TV advert where a group of supposedly business people were umming and ahhing about an IT purchase when someone held up a piece of paper on which they had written in large letters "IBM", and everyone calmed down. If that is the procurement process for corporate IT then no wonder there is so much 'buyers remorse'.

    I do know how they feel, though. Despite all evidence to the contrary, for some reason I think that buying a better (i.e., more expensive) camera will mean I take better (i.e., nicer) photographs. (On the other hand at least with the best equipment I know that the end result is almost entirely my fault.)

    Seriously, if you need to spend that long on deciding on a new IT procurement, either you are doing a very in-depth requirements analysis (good) or don't actually know what you need (bad).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Psychographics

      cat $comment | sed 's/IBM/Oracle/g'

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge
      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Psychographics

        s/Oracle/Usual suspects/

    2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Psychographics

      I just guessed the word meant, "a PowerPoint image created by a pointy-haired boss."

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Psychographics

        Why the joke alert?

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Psychographics

      Psychobabble.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pseudoscience and bad math.

    Classic Gardner style breakdown, "we mashed a bunch of uncorrelated numbers together and then made prognostications on the peaks and valleys of the resulting statistical noise."

    As a result you get the perverse conclusion that the problem is how long it took to make a decision. I hate our Cisco phone system, which was quite a bit more expensive than the competing bid. But nobody ever got fired for using Cisco right? We also use them for our network layer, so it made sense to the bean counters on paper, and it was one less vendor for them to track. We even made the non-IT stakeholders go to demo's and training. It went in one ear and out the other, and a decision was made based on non-functional criteria, and as a result we are stuck with a barely functional phone system. This happened because the price tag was high enough we couldn't just sort out the best solution and tell them how much to take out of our budget. Board level approval. So people with no experience or expertise made a decision, mostly on their gut and a 2 page summary, while trying to shield themselves from as much accountability as possible.

    With that paragraph of information you can draw quite a few meaningful conclusions. Just listing the dollar amount, time to decision, and regret outcome isn't going to result in a meaningful conclusion, even at the 10,000 ft level. Just end up with the inevitable and obvious, like there is a positive correlation between the cost of a project and the time to decide. Duh.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pseudoscience and bad math.

      As is often said on the BBC's "More or Less" programme: "correlation does not equal causation".

      It's quite possible, as said, that the longer purchases are the more expensive ones and that the final decision is made at a level above one that actually understands what is needed. There, the gloss and promises often carry more weight... but other correlations can just as easily be drawn. Without controlling variables, it's very difficult to be confident (in a statistically significant way - not through ignorance) of causation. Taguchi methods (e.g. orthogonal arrays) might help, but I doubt anyone actually understanding the technique is ever involved.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Pseudoscience and bad math.

        >the longer purchases are the more expensive ones and that the final decision is made at a level above one that actually understands what is needed. There, the gloss and promises often carry more weight... ... but I doubt anyone actually understanding the technique is ever involved.

        From experience of getting board sign-off in FT100 companies, I suspect sign-off is also well above people who actually understand the business.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Pseudoscience and bad math.

        "the final decision is made at a level above one that actually understands what is needed."

        Yes, that was my first thought on this matter too. How much IT buyers "remorse" is related to decisions made by the C-Suite and foisted on IT rather than being IT-led? Are Gartner measuring remorse or dissatisfaction? I suspect the latter, since the C-Suite are the Gartner customers and the IT teams are the people being polled.

      3. daflibble

        Re: Pseudoscience and bad math.

        Gotta love a More or Less quote.

  3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Coat

    One Reason

    I insert myself into e-waste & disposal routes, is the number of things recovered off the books, untagged & kept hidden by the purchasing Mangler, when it wouldn't work as they expected & wouldn't get IT involved to make it work "For reasons we can guess why", so it is quietly shunted aside & "lost".

    After 5 years or so a ticket comes in to remove "surplus" equipment - Leading to a cornucopia of "NOS" delights that "never existed" & continue to cease to exist when the ticket is closed.

    Due to immigration I'm still pissed that I had to pass on one of 8 BBC Master Series (Still in sealed boxes) that came in.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: One Reason

      I've "salvaged" few nice odds and ends that way.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The IT department is often the last to know

    Far too many IT purchases are actually committed to by some idiot who fell for the sales talk.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The IT department is often the last to know

      Truth.

      Them: "Hello, I.T.? We've just made a major purchase with Lenovo and the new kit will be provisioned by IBM*. Can you deploy that across our national operations by next week?"

      Me: "Goddamn you blithering morons!"

      *yes, I know those are now two different companies. That's the point here.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The IT department is often the last to know

        Truth - but names changed...

        Them: "Hello, I.T.? As part of our £400m business transformation project, we've just made a major purchase of HP kit with our SI partner, who will provision and deploy the kit across our international operations and create an international network connecting it all back to the central system. We just need you to give them access to a datacenter so they can install the central system."

        IT: "Well if you had involved us earlier you could have used our: worldwide purchasing agreement with HP, worldwide services agreement with HP & Bull for the worldwide deployment of systems and their on-going maintenance and support, also we already have an international network connecting ALL sites..."

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: The IT department is often the last to know

      and kickbacks!

      You don't know how many times they get slipped in a gift card with few grand on it, as a thank you for going with the purchase...

      1. Ken G Bronze badge
        Trollface

        Re: The IT department is often the last to know

        I've never seen anything that obvious. It's amazing how many executive sponsors go on to become software or services "industry specialists" or "customer advocates" with the vendor in 3-5 years time though.

    3. ITMA Bronze badge

      Re: The IT department is often the last to know

      Not to mention those who have a "puter" at home so think they know all about IT, especially when IT disagree with what they want for sound technical or other reasons

    4. ITMA Bronze badge

      Re: The IT department is often the last to know

      What those not in IT often fail to realise, or simply don't like when it is explained to them is this:

      IT is NOT there to provide what they want. IT is there to provide the IT tools needed for them to do their job within a budget the business is willing to pay. That and what they want are, more often than not, two completely different things.

      And then there are those (not in IT) who go and buy things like this off eBay (for £2,500) without doing even the most basic research. Even a few minutes on Google would have found this:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4QJRLsVtys

      And yes the one they bought turned out to be virtually identical complete with virtually identical USB memory stick.

      Oh and it really DOES STINK!

  5. HildyJ Silver badge
    WTF?

    Glaringly obvious

    You don't need psychographics (unless you're trying to sell a new Gartner service). The answer is clear in Gartner's own words.

    "Whether or not some regret can be blamed on technology being oversold or buyers being ill-informed is not a point of discussion"

    Why the hell not? That would seem to be the most obvious cause and would seem to be a logical question.

    "67 percent of people involved in technology-buying decisions are not in IT"

    So here is the obvious answer - put IT in charge of all technology buying decisions. It's reasonable for suits and beancounters to tell IT to find something more affordable, It's unreasonable to tell IT to buy something specific.

    P.S. My spellchecker doesn't think psychographics is a real word. I agree.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Glaringly obvious

      "Whether or not some regret can be blamed on technology being oversold or buyers being ill-informed is not a point of discussion"

      Exactly. It is fact, the WHOLE damn point and cause almost 99% of the time.

    2. OhForF'

      Re: Glaringly obvious

      >So here is the obvious answer - put IT in charge of all technology buying decisions<

      Being a techie myself i wouldn't want our IT to be in charge of the buying decision without other stake holders getting a say. We'd end up with stuff without the necessary functionality and abysmal user interfaces as long as its easy to integrate and administrate.

      I'd however want IT to be involved and have a veto right for every technology buying decision (before the order is sent to the supplier).

      In bigger companies IT is usually involved. Unfortunately the one involved will be the boss at C-Level who will most likely have no more knowledge about the technical details as anyone in marketing.

      Involving the people that are later tasked with integrating the new shiny into the companies environment and write the internal user manuals before the purchase seems to only happen once in a blue moon.

      1. innominatus

        Re: Glaringly obvious

        Exact.

        Even then in $BIGCORP the business team and IT have conspired to jointly select and inflict some of the most universally hated SaaS abominations on the rest of the organisation. (Looking at you latest HR platform, finance system and other minor demons.)

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Glaringly obvious

      "Why the hell not? That would seem to be the most obvious cause and would seem to be a logical question."

      As has said above, the C-suite and the like are Gartner's customers and the C-suite and the like are the people who make the puchasing mistakes.

      Gartner aren't going to tell their customers something they don't want to hear. They're sailing close to the wind as it is with this report. No wonder they've turned up the jargon to bury it.

    4. Roj Blake

      Re: My spellchecker doesn't think psychographics is a real word. I agree.

      I don't know why, it's a perfectly cromulent word.

  6. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

    Huh?

    "it was relatively easy for product leaders to predict who buyers were, but no longer. Buying team dynamics are changing and customers can find buying to be a real challenge"

    Sorry, but WTF does that actually mean?

    1. stiine Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Huh?

      It means that its easier to recognized unhappy customers after they become former customers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huh?

      Salesmen/saleswomen after big bonuses tend to focus on the gatekeepers, not the users or minions who have to implement. Some even do research to find out who the real gatekeeper is - as it's not always the person who signs off the purchase. Before retiring, I spent many years in management consulting (as an independent, not in one of the sausage factories) and all my work came through recommendation; one lesson I learned early on was that the CEO's secretary was a valuable ally.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Huh?

        >one lesson I learned early on was that the CEO's secretary was a valuable ally.

        I found as IT was often under the FinDir, cultivating relationships in this area was beneficial in getting things signed off; including your invoices...

      2. Twanky Silver badge

        Re: Huh?

        Competent secretaries/PAs won't tell you any secrets - but if you tell them your secrets and problems their bosses often become more sympathetic. Funny that.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Huh?

          >Competent secretaries/PAs won't tell you any secrets

          But they are the gatekeeper, you want a slot in the diary...

          For one (important) client, the PA got a night out in London (meal, theatre, limo) with their partner, the boss? tickets to the cricket and a seat in the company booth; I know which one I would have chosen and thus who got the better deal.

  7. stratcat

    It's nothing new

    Many technology purchasing decisions are going to be retrospectively wrong, usually just partially wrong, at some point during the short/medium term after implementation. That's just a fact of life as your own use case/business case/roadmap and the vendor's own road map diverge over time. If it's a long evaluation or a long implementation process from the time you sign your life away, then the regret perhaps comes a bit sooner into the working life of whatever you bought.

    The best you can do is make sure it's fit for purpose, polish up your crystal ball, make sure others do the same if they're making the decision and realise it's often part of the lifecycle of whatever you're doing.

    And don't purchase anything on the basis of business breakfast presentations. Just because someone fed you pastries and bad filter coffee and battery acid juice, slagged off the other vendors in the space, showed you some gartner charts, and peddled their wares (whilst glossing over any hidden costs), it doesn't mean that it's fit for purpose, or that you owe them anything.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's nothing new

      If only the C-suie was interested in getting solutions fit for purpose....

      But that would require talking (and listening!) to the peons that will end up using it, and we can't have that.

  8. Howard Sway Silver badge

    we need to think about psychographics beyond the motivations for buying

    Or maybe you need to think about what you need in order to do the things you want to do. And to have employed people with sufficient knowledge to be able to do that. Because otherwise you end up cluelessly flailing about and end up wasting fortunes on worthless Gartner verbiage and vast amounts of time thereafter trying to turn their "analysis" into some kind of concrete action.

  9. GuldenNL

    Garner is part of the problem

    I don’t even read their word salad. Just today I had several people on Linkedin ask for my input on a Gartner report that left out the largest vendor because someone at Gartner had their feelings hurt.

    My simple reply was, “They produce nothing of value.”

    All too often business people lap up their liquid diarrhea like it’s priceless champagne.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Garner is part of the problem

      This.

    2. daflibble

      Re: Garner is part of the problem

      But it's still useful to sell to C-Level when the report says good things about the product you want to buy for other reasons like experience operating and testing it. Not sure how much value it has beyond that though.

  10. ecofeco Silver badge

    I will never understand

    I will never understand why, just WHY companies make it so damn hard to purchase things?! Websites designed by flying monkeys, customer non-support and automated voice menu hell.

    And it's in every damn industry!

    Even basic retail! No floorwalkers and no clear pricing to be found and only 3 registers out of 20 that are open. They are rejecting literally trillions in sales!

    Never, never, NEVER let your company be run by bean counters!

    1. Twanky Silver badge

      Re: I will never understand

      But... We must save money, at any cost!

      1. daflibble

        Re: I will never understand

        Ah finally the ultimate cost saving measure.... close the business.

      2. ITMA Bronze badge

        Re: I will never understand

        Ah... The classic "It's 10p cheaper over at X". Except one has to spend £5 in fuel to get over to X to save the 10p

  11. ColinPa Silver badge

    Peter principle

    I think the guy who said "Every one rises to their level of incompetence" also said

    "If you spend enough time justifying something the need goes away".

  12. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    I had a client approach me...

    ...with a view to making his business more efficient (which was my main advertising focus). Initially all went well, identified ways to glue various office procedures together and eliminate islands of data. It then transpired that someone had already had a stab at same and a tailored accounts package had been bought to service the need. I spent many long unsuccessful months going round in circles with what he should be doing, and him continually trying to somehow incorporate the bespoke software into the mix*. He had spent ££££'s on it and just would not accept that this was a sunk cost to which he had to draw a line and move on. A pity because the project was a nice stock control system with some challenging quirks. He himself moved on from there, but it took many years for him to come to that conclusion.

    *The analogy I was fond of at the time was the peculiar curved tunnel (e.g. but a lot plainer, https://www.train-station.com/Pages/archives/Library/023922378101.html ) someone had bought me to go with my childhood trainset. From that point on, any layout I created had to incorporate that tunnel.

  13. Bryan W

    Hypeware Salesman

    Oh, you didn't actually need that super cloud hybrid container orchestrated scalable nosql machine learning microservice architecture for your relatively simple payroll, inventory and ordering system that has worked just fine as an on-prem monolithic stack for 20+ years? Didn't mean to mislead you, but I got to sell a bunch of new servers and licenses, so sucks to be you. Good luck refactoring and/or rewriting your entire software suite to actually get any use of it. You guys and your software are dinosaurs anyways and need to get with the times. Don't worry, once you retrain or replace your entire team, and hire some "data scientists" it's super easy to implement and maintain, I swear.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Hypeware Salesman

      rewriting your entire software suite

      ... at least once in each of perl, python, Ruby, Raku, JavaScript, Go and Rust.

      Got to eliminate all of that "technical debt". Or "investment", as we used to call it.

  14. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    FAIL

    "Enterprise Technology Adoption Profiles (ETAs)"

    Um, no. It's not ETA, it's ETAP.

    Do your fucking acronyms properly.

  15. Kenjitamurako

    SaaS pains

    The last service desk I worked at I was hired on when they were replacing their call-center solution of an on-premise PBX, supplemented with Cisco Jabber for remote workers, with a SaaS solution. I had been told the decision was made entirely by middle-management and higher outside of the IT department and that they started to go through with the purchase, testing, and configuration on their own until they realized they hit a wall and needed to actually bring IT in to finish the implementation.

    In this company nearly every employee needed a phone number and the SaaS that was chosen required using an online web console for parts of the onboarding process that could have easily been automated with a role based assignment. Every new onboarded employee required the service desk to use the online admin console to pick one or two licenses suitable for the employees role, apply some standard settings, and assign a phone number. The SaaS that was chosen didn't expose an API to automate those processes so it fell on the service desk. They have this to say on their website about their SCIM provisioning procedure:

    *

    Limitations

    The SCIM API has some known limitations which are due to be addressed in a future release. See also the restrictions column in the User Attributes section of this document.

    The API does not support:

    Assignment of licenses, cost center or user profile

    Setting of work phone number

    *

    This company had a fairly high turnover rate and it was trying to grow so this purchase decision can be considered pretty painful. Made even more painful by the bugs we encountered using their software that was interfering with our training processes.

    The managers of the call center had a "call shadowing" system set up where an experienced employee would take a call, share their screen and system audio in teams, and the trainees would observe. Unfortunately, with this SaaS about every other one of our trainers encountered a bug where the trainee could hear all of the system audio except the caller on the other end of the line from the SaaS.

    The trainee could hear the trainer and the rest of the trainers system audio, but not hear the customer on the other end of the line. Problem wasn't audio drivers, sound settings, or Teams as far as we could tell. We tried every combination of audio driver updates, restarts, and changing sound settings to no avail and the problem persisted with Zoom. The SaaS application was the only audio source not being fully captured when this would happen.

    The SaaS application was supposed to have a feature to allow this call shadowing without having to use Teams, but they made it so that only people with the supervisor role could use it. Anyone with the supervisor role had the ability to permanently delete audio recordings in the system which is very bad news when you need those recordings for our audit compliance so of course we couldn't just assign the supervisor role to the trainers.

  16. darklord

    One possible issue is for IT back office purchases most users don't see much difference nowadays as networks and services are so good. I can understand corporations buying the latest wizzy tech to only get a miniscule improvement in real day to day terms for their users.

    But DATA is king and time is money, when it all works no one complains

  17. localzuk Silver badge

    Regrets, I've had a few...

    I think everyone has had a tech purchase regret in their career. But obviously they can be of different scales.

    I've had a few - a few batches of laptops over the years that didn't live up to expectations due to poor build quality. Software that was sold as doing everything we needed but ultimately could not do what we wanted. Services that promised things, and then in the contract (which whoever signed it didn't properly read) excluded those things, so they became extra costs.

    Nearly all the issues I've seen though, were caused by vendors overselling or offering poor quality kit. Frustration with how long things take to procure is an entirely different matter.

  18. Surrey Veteran

    Interesting

    For research sake will be interesting asking of those bad purchases, how many of those products/services were featured in Gartner's reports or magic quadrants.

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