Thought Leadership

Cooperative Technology Purchasing Between Business and IT

Complex buying decisions require close collaboration between business and IT leaders.

Technology Purchasing Between Business and IT

(April 5, 2023) It wasn’t that long ago that IT departments were essentially technology fiefdoms, largely independent of the rest of the organization, with a few key managers having almost total authority over operations. It made sense at a time when computing systems were new and not well understood by executives and end-users. Technology is not quite the mystery it was two decades ago, however, and IT departments are no longer the central dispenser of all things tech.

“Business and IT functions have become much more closely aligned, creating a stronger focus on achieving specific business outcomes while maximizing value,” said Mark McClelland, co-founder and vice president of Mainstream Technologies. “As a result, business leaders today play an increasingly large role in technology purchasing decisions.”

Industry research suggests that today’s IT decision-makers (ITDMs) and business decision-makers (BDMs) have a far more collaborative relationship when it comes to the acquisition of IT products and services. In most cases, ITDMs serve as major influencers and technology gatekeepers with BDMs usually providing final approval on funding.

Shifting Roles

IT decision-makers still do a lot of the legwork on exploring technology solutions and vetting potential providers, particularly when the solution is adopted across departments and lines of business. However, business decision-makers increasingly make the final purchasing decision when it comes to cloud-based and department-level solutions.

“IT professionals are not always the final decision-maker when it comes to technology purchases. Given the pace of business and the ease of purchasing cloud-based solutions, department managers often procure IT products and services on the fly,” McClelland said. “However, business managers and end-users still rely on the IT department’s expertise and understanding of the existing infrastructure to help identify solutions that are a good fit for the business.”

This approach is a natural progression as IT shifts from a cost center that provides tactical support to other departments to becoming a strategic partner that can generate revenue and support business objectives. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t conflicts.

Although executives and business users are much more tech-savvy these days, business IT departments are still complicated environments involving a wide array of hardware, software, and cloud resources, special connectivity requirements, licensing considerations, and more. IT leaders must evaluate purchases knowing that they will ultimately be responsible for implementing and managing new technology.

Collaborative Approach

While ITDMs naturally tend to focus on critical technical requirements, BDMs must also evaluate the total cost of ownership, return on investment, time-to-market, and many other business considerations. Bad technology decisions can hurt the bottom line through poor customer experiences or reduced user productivity.

“These diverse viewpoints play out in different ways depending on the type of technology being evaluated,” said McClelland. “For example, businesses tend to take their lead from IT leaders when considering managed services, security, and hosting but look to business leaders for direction on Software-as-a-Service and team collaboration solutions. The two groups tend to a more collaborative approach when evaluating newer technologies such as artificial intelligence and business process automation.”

Even with a collaborative approach, it can be tough to pull the trigger. For every potential solution, there are usually dozens of viable alternatives. In addition, the speed of change in the technology world means there’s always a chance that a better option will emerge in a matter of weeks or months.

An Unbiased Voice

Partnering with a vendor-agnostic IT solutions provider can be extremely helpful in facilitating conversations between IT and business leaders and simplifying the technology purchasing process. Experienced IT providers know what works in real-world environments, and can help organizations select solutions that meet all their requirements and will deliver long-term value.

“Vendor-agnostic providers may have strong relationships with dozens of suppliers. With no incentive to push a particular product, they can offer unbiased evaluations. They can also leverage those relationships to find favorable pricing and technical support,” McClelland said. “Additionally, providers often have helped other customers evaluate, implement and manage similar solutions, giving them valuable insight to guide purchases that will both meet business requirements and fit with existing infrastructure.”

IT departments no longer exist in a vacuum — they must be closely aligned with other business units to achieve business objectives. As a result, technology purchasing has become an increasingly cooperative effort among IT and business leaders. In many cases, an unbiased IT solutions provider can be a valuable collaborator and help drive purchases that meet both strategic and tactical requirements.  


Mainstream Technologies delivers a full range of technology services in Arkansas and the surrounding region including managed technology services and consulting, custom software development, and cybersecurity services. We also offer industry-leading data center services in our Little Rock facilities. Established in 1996, Mainstream has earned a reputation for delivering quality, reliable, and professional technology services for public and private-sector customers across the United States.

Jeff Pracht
IT Business Development Manager
(479) 715-8629 Office
(501) 529-0008 Mobile

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