by September 19, 2013 0 comments

Confused over which IT products and services to buy? It’s natural, given the plethora of options out there, with each one promising to be better than the rest in meeting all your business needs. It’s not an easy task, and requires thorough comparisons of different options for their features, pricing, performance, and after sales service and support.

While the evaluation process can’t be short-circuited, it can be sped up by analyzing peer opinion. If you know what your peers and colleagues are buying, you get more confidence in deciding which products and services to buy. Peer opinion therefore plays a key role in easing the decision making process. It acts like a stamp to your own findings.

That’s exactly what we intend to do through the users’ choice awards. These are given based on a comprehensive survey of users to find out which IT brands do they currently own and why and which ones are they likely to buy in the next six months and why. Please click on the links below to know more about the winners and the survey methodology we’ve followed:

Users’ Choice Awards 2013: The Winners

Survey Methodology

While the survey itself has been running for over two decades, for the past two years, we have been doing this survey for Indian SMEs having 100-999 employees. This is therefore, the third User’s Choice Awards survey aimed at the SME segment. The target segment is further divided into two-organizations with 100-499 employees and those with 500-999 employees. For these segments, we’ve determined the favorite IT products and services across 30+ categories spanning hardware, software, networking equipment and Internet/WAN/Support services.

Before we delve into the survey results and tell you the IT products and services that SMEs are likely to buy in the near future, here’s a glimpse of some overall trends that SMEs seem to be following while buying IT products and services.

Product/Service quality is topmost criteria among SMEs while buying, followed by brand name, value for money, and after sales service/support in that order.

We asked our survey respondents to tell us what they liked the most about the IT products and services that they already have and what’s important to them while planning to buy a product in the future.

Product/service quality came out loud and clear as the most important reason for about 40% of the survey respondents. While there are many factors that SMEs consider while choosing an IT product or service for their organization, it’s apparent from the survey that the primary criteria is its quality.

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This might be due to the fact that today, there’s a plethora of options available in the market to choose from, and buyers don’t want to end up buying inferior quality products and services and regretting their decision later. It’s therefore also important for product and service vendors to focus more on improving their product/service quality and highlighting the same to SMEs.

Brand name was the second most important criteria amongst SMEs for either owning or buying IT products/services in the future. 30% of our respondents gave this as the reason. This was followed by value for money among 20% of the respondents, and the last being after sales service and support.

After sales service/support gaining importance in future purchase

On an average, 8% of the SMEs we surveyed said after sales service/support was the most important thing they liked about the IT products/services they already owned. It’s a fairly low percentage, but it also clearly indicates that very few IT vendors stand out from the crowd for exceptional after sales service and support.

Here’s where things get interesting. When we asked the survey respondents to give reasons for their future preference of various IT products and services, about 13% of them gave after sales service/support as the primary reason. That’s 5% jump in the number of votes for after sales service and support.

It clearly indicates that vendors who step up their efforts to offer superior after sales service and support will gain greater traction with buyers than those who continue with status quo.

In fact, the jump here happened with a slight decline in other key purchase considerations, namely product quality and brand name. So while they continue to remain the dominant reasons for future purchase, after sales service and support is also gradually gaining more ground.

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Other Observations

There were several other observations about the IT buying behavior of Indian SMEs from the survey results. Unfortunately, it’s no different from the last two year’s results, ever since we started focusing on SMEs.

First, the level of awareness about different choices in IT amongst SMEs is still very low.

We asked our users about which IT brands did they currently own across different categories, and which ones were they likely to buy? In many categories, users were not willing to stick with their existing brand, but were also not sure about which other brand to shift to. This is possibly because the users are not aware of the other choices that are available to them.

Second, value for money matters more to SMEs with 100-499 employees whereas those having 500+ employees put more weight to the brand name.Third, we’re finding that SMEs have gradually started moving to cloud based services instead of putting investments in their own IT infrastructure. We found this in case of email for instance, where a majority of the brands that made it to the Users’ Choice club were cloud based service providers.

What’s different this time?

This time, apart from determining the IT brand preferences as well as the overall best IT brands, we put greater emphasis on the reasons for choosing different brands. So instead of just trying to find out the reason why SMEs own a particular IT brand, we tried to find out the most important thing about it. Was it the brand name or product quality? Or was it value for money or after sales service and support? This has provided us some useful insights into the decision making process of SMEs, which we’ve shared above.

Winners and Runners Up of PCQuest Users’ Choice Awards 2013

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