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Research reveals what motivates buyers to embrace emerging technology

I’ve spent most of my journalism career gawking over the new stuff, the products that could be best-described as NOT mainstream. Well, AMI Partners has just come out with some new research in conjunction with the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) studying the SMB buyer’s intentions and mindset when it comes to these so-called emerging technologies, and I must say that I was a tad surprised by this community’s growing willingness to be on the bleeding edge.

Here are some highlights from the results, which were shared during a presentation last week at CompTIA Breakaway. (The survey base includes companies in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.):

  • Only 16 percent of SMBs consider themselves to be early adopters.
  • But approximately 54 percent of the SMB buyers said they were willing to pay a premium for emerging technology.
  • While the investment plans for no particular segment were all that huge, application virtualization/consolidation, mobile technologies, IP communications and telephony applications, Web 2.0 and environmentally conscious technology were among the top interests for this community. Yes, Web 2.0, even though many solution providers spend time arguing with me that it’s just a fad.
  • Among the top reasons were taking on an emerging technology were to replace outdated equipment (58 percent), to replace technology that is less efficient (53 percent) and to meet the needs of customers (44 percent).
  • Reasons for NOT investing in emerging technologies included the notion that existing technology was sufficient (66 percent), the purchases could not be justified (61 percent) and the total cost of ownership was not clear (34 percent).
  • The VAR’s influence on an emerging technology purchase, as you might expect, is greatest in the research and education phase and about one-third of the respondents said they would like their IT service providers to spend more time bringing emerging technologies to their attention.
  • Another interesting factor to note, which could have an impact on a solution provider’s ability to recommend an emerging technology: only 28 percent actually have a formal IT budget to support these purchases. In my mind, this could cut two ways: there’s no limit on what you could convince a business to spend. At the same time, obviously, you’ll have to find the money elsewhere within the organization to justify the purchase.

Heather Clancy is an award-business journalist and a strategic communications consultant with SWOT Management Group. She can be reached at

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