Executives from finance, marketing, sales, logistics, and other departments and business lines are playing an increasingly central role in the evaluation, purchase and use of technology solutions, according to a new report by technology trade association CompTIA.

“CIOs and information technology teams remain involved in the process, as their expertise and experience are valued,” said Carolyn April, senior director, industry analysis, at CompTIA. “But business lines are clearly flexing their muscles. It’s another strong signal that technology has shifted from a supporting function for business to a strategic asset.”

Among the 675 U.S. businesses surveyed online for the report in February 2017, 45 percent said that ideas about technology come from different areas of the organization; and 36 percent said more executives are involved in the decision making. More than half of respondents (52 percent) used business unit budget to pay for technology purchases in the last year.

Lines of business are also staffing their departments with technology-oriented job roles, from data scientists and business analysts to software developers and social media managers.

This shift is impacting the entire IT channel, including vendors, distributors and solution providers. Much of what business lines are buying are cloud-based software solutions that can be self-provisioned quickly within a department. For that reason, channel partners need to package what they sell differently.

“They need to speak the language of business because this new generation of buyers doesn’t want to hear about the technical implications of their purchases,” April said. “Channel partners need to position themselves as consultants and service providers who can help customers make informed decisions about what they buy.”

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Bob Violino

Bob Violino

Bob Violino is a freelance technology and business writer who covers a variety of topics, including big data and analytics, cloud computing, information security and mobile technology.