When it comes to decisions about businesses' investments in technology, emotional factors such as actions, recommendation and engagement are just as important as rational factors such as product, price and future proofing, according to a report by The Good Relations Group, which found that both sets of factors drive some 64% of technology sales in the UK alone.
In the study of 175 CEOs and other C-suite members including finance officers and CIOs of FTSE500 companies, it appears that brand has the highest influence, with 73% of purchases made when a brand is strong. But this doesn't only mean high awareness but it means a 'good' brand with strong personal relevance. This is acutely true amongst CEOs, who play a critical or significant role in 90% of technology purchases and are the most instinctive thinkers. Having read good things about a supplier is twice as important for CEOs than for any other group and receiving a personal recommendation is one of their biggest drivers.
The study also revealed that expectations of a supplier's Corporate Social Responsibility activities have risen. 'People and Planet' activities are now a given and to influence purchasing decisions, suppliers need today to be 'Corporate Activists'. Three quarters of the C-suite want providers to resolving sector challenges, not just share thought leadership for their own benefit. And 73% of businesses want suppliers to help them to become more responsible.
Good Business doesn't mean you have to be perfect - the C-suite know things will go wrong - but they want to be informed; today they need fast, accurate and timely information to help judge and jointly manage the issue. This drive for truth was evident in the 'Top seven issues that will get you fired'. Being late or over budget did not appear, but topping the list as the most sackable offence was 'providing false customer references', which was viewed as bad as employing child labour.
The seven top brand killers for technology companies were found to be:
- Providing false customer references;
- Using child labour;
- Using a factory with regular fatalities;
- Covering up an incident;
- Using illegal immigrant labour;
- Handing confidential data to the government;
- Tax evasion.
"Never underestimate the value that your customers place on good actions, good engagement and good recommendation. The DNA of a good company technology will encompass all three 'dimensions of good'," said Jackie Brock-Doyle, CEO for The Good Relations Group. "This is especially important in a global market where traditional factors such as product and price can quickly be matched."
Worryingly, there are a number of UK business that do not place demands on IT suppliers to be 'Good', putting themselves and their customers at risk. The study found that 7% of UK businesses do not think that being truthful is a core component of being an ethical or responsible company, and 15% think a principled stance on data privacy is not essential.
When asked which companies represent the best examples of 'Good Business', Cisco topped the list for companies that were judged to be ethical and responsible, Microsoft was most cited as being the most recommended, and Apple won the hearts of the business world, leading the market as "being a really strong brand".