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The Performance Principle

Russell Rothstein

BPM Purchasing Meets Social Networking

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A recent study from LinkedIn and Forrester Research found that the majority of enterprise tech decision makers are turning to social networks to guide them in the purchasing process. The study finds that 85% of decision makers have used one or more social networks (most often LinkedIn) for business reasons. 59% have used a social network in the purchasing process itself, and 73% have interacted with vendors via social networking.

According to the report, there are four primary reasons for decision makers' recent heavy reliance on social networks:

  • 1.     To learn and benefit from trusted peers

    2.     To quickly and efficiently find information

    3.     To connect with relevant vendors

    4.     To acquire a broader business network

    In a CIO.com article, Mike Weir, LinkedIn's head of category development, explains that social media is no longer simply an awareness platform, but is "a critical source of influence across the entire decision-making process."

    Weir recommends that tech decision makers join and become active in relevant LinkedIn groups. He explains that the participants in these groups are active players in disseminating important information and building trustful connections that will help decision makers with their purchases.

    It's clear that BPM and other tech decision makers can benefit greatly from LinkedIn connections and information provided in LinkedIn groups. The challenge that LinkedIn faces with its groups is that many groups have become hotspots for vendor spam - postings by marketing, sales and other employees of vendors to promote their products and services. Some groups are well moderated and keep out the vendor spam, while others are not as diligent. With this reality, the #1 reason listed above for participating in social networks during the purchasing process (i.e. to learn and benefit from trusted peers), gets sidelined. Tech decision makers are left with the question: Is it easy to find trusted peers on LinkedIn and other social networks? Are there reviews that we can rely on?

    While the information provided by social networks such as LinkedIn, as well as industry analysts, can be very valuable, another survey from Forrester Research indicates that the most important content to technology buyers is access to "peer experiences" and "product ratings and reviews":


    Sites such as IT Central Station enable decision makers to tap into high quality BPM product reviews for reference during the technology buying process.

    Technology pros need a way to exchange information with their peers without being hounded or bombarded by vendors. A "trusted peer" is not someone who is paid by his or her company to write a product review or share an article in LinkedIn that promotes the employing company; it is a a real expert who has used a product or service and has valuable advice and recommendations to share with other tech professionals. Reviews by real users, especially users who are also experts in enterprise software, are the ones that decision makers urgently seek out in the purchasing process.

    These opinions from real users complement the role that industry analysts and consultants play in the decision making process. There will always be a role for analysts, consultants and vendor input in the complex enterprise technology procurement process. What's new today is the emergence of social networks and product reviews as an influential source in how budgets are allocated in the $3 trillion market for enterprise technology products and services.

    If you are researching BPM solutions, visit IT Central Station and see what peers are saying about the BPM vendors and solutions in the market.

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    Russell Rothstein blogs about cloud computing, performance management, business service management and related topics, examining how new technologies and business models impact the dynamic IT service management market.

    Russell Rothstein

    Russell Rothstein has spent his 20+ year career in the enterprise technology industry at the crossroads between technology and business. He has spoken at industry events including Interop, CloudConnect, CMG, Red Herring, and TeleManagement World. Russell is currently Founder and CEO of IT Central Station, a B2B social networking site that provides user reviews and ratings of enterprise software, hardware and services. Previously, Russell was Vice President of Product Marketing at OpTier, a vendor of application performance management (APM) solutions. Before joining OpTier, Russell was AVP Product Marketing at OPNET Technologies (Nasdaq: OPNT) where he helped lead the company’s focus into APM. He was co-founder and CEO of Zettapoint, a venture-backed enterprise software startup that was acquired by EMC, and ran marketing for Open Sesame, a Web 1.0 startup that was acquired by Bowne/RR Donnelley (NYSE:BNE). Russell began his career at Oracle, deploying Oracle Applications for Fortune 1000 companies. Russell received a BA in Computer Science from Harvard University, an MS in Technology and Policy from MIT and an MS in Management from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Follow Russell on twitter at @RussRothsteinIT .

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