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IT departments, LOB and more to come?

The channel is having to get used to lines of business spending more than the traditional IT buyers but Billy MacInnes wonders if change will stop there

The trend of more and more technology being purchased by lines of business (LOBs) at the expense of IT departments is intriguing. According to IDC, LOB spending on IT will be more or less neck and neck with that from IT departments this year and overtake them next year.

For many channel partners (and vendors) that have spent years forging and maintaining relationships with IT departments, the prospect of having to deal with multiple people in several different LOBs could prove daunting, time consuming and resource intensive. Put simply, they’d have to market to more people, talk to more people and try and sell to more people. And they’d also face the prospect of every sale having a lower value than any sale they could have made through the IT department.

On the flip side, they would have more opportunities to sell their technologies or services because there are more LOBs that could be potentially interested in them whereas in the traditional system if they weren’t considered by the IT department, they were out. And if they get one LOB on board, it also opens

The thing is that, whatever consequences they might feel this shift will have, more LOB spending on technology is a fact of life and it’s going to become even more prevalent.

According to Andrea Minonne, IDC research analyst for Customer Insights & Analysis in Western Europe, LOBs “will accelerate their investments in technology, particularly in the cloud software space”. IDC predicts “business-funded spending will experience 6% growth in 2018, four times faster than that of IT departments, showing that many European companies are more exposed to shadow IT spending”.

This fragmentation in IT purchasing is likely to be mirrored by a fragmentation in the technology being adopted and implemented by LOBs.

Depending on how you look at it, this also opens up the opportunity for more partners to compete in selling the technology and services that LOBs actually want rather than those mandated by the IT department. And it could also present them with possible work further down the line in trying to get the LOBs to collaborate with each other.

The good news for everyone, eventually, is that partners will be selling technology that suits the LOBs rather than the current situation where the IT department frequently forces LOBs to adapt to suit the technology it buys. In other words, technology that has been developed and provided to meet the needs of the business rather than to suit the IT department’s.

It sounds great which is why I’m a little sceptical that it will ever be achieved before something else emerges to change everything again.

This was last published in April 2018

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