Most UK businesses are frustrated by the level of support they get from IT suppliers, a survey has revealed.
Some 85% of IT directors said they would like greater access to senior management and product development teams to influence them or raise concerns.
The same proportion are unhappy about the tendency of IT suppliers to withdraw or reduce support for older products that still work well, after introducing new products.
Nearly half (48%) said IT suppliers were not taking customer feedback onboard when it came to product development.
"It is difficult for a handful of senior people to interact with thousands of customers, but user groups can be a channel to influence IT suppliers at a high level," he said.
Through user groups, businesses can communicate the challenges they are facing and where development is required, he said.
Bowling is a member of a global federation of 12 user groups, Sugen, that played a direct role in establishing a set of KPIs to govern SAP's maintenance contracts.
The survey also revealed that 83% of IT directors felt they had greater knowledge than their IT suppliers' support teams about particular products and services.
Some 82% said they would like to collaborate with their peers to discuss and overcome their IT challenges.
Earlier this year, another IT user group, the Corporate IT Forum said IT professionals are increasingly turning to the practical experience of their peers to help meet challenges in the economic downturn.
David Roberts, chief executive of the Corporate IT Forum, said there is an increased demand for information about how other organisations are tackling specific problems.
User forums made up of 20 people with 10 years' experience in a particular topic in effect deliver 200 years of collective experience, he said.
Bowling said user groups provide easy access to in-depth knowledge of products, which consultancies and suppliers are often unable to provide.
"Information on how to get the most out of a product in real life situations comes from the people who use it," he said.