New study labels IT as slaves to vendor sales strategies

Most Australian businesses remain loyal to the same suppliers when purchasing IT equipment, new research has found.

A paltry 12 percent of enterprises canvass multiple vendors when buying IT equipment while 61 percent buy exclusively from current suppliers, according to the study of 200 Australian businesses with more than 500 employees.

Conducted in June this year, Technology Choices, a newly formed consultancy which employs a number of former Gartner analysts, undertook the research.

Sara Sause, Technology Choices managing director, said businesses that do not seek competitive prices are "slaves to the sales strategies of their current vendors".

"These businesses have given up their bargaining power and have become slaves to the sales strategies and upgrade cycles of their existing vendors," Sause said.

"Most Australian businesses have decided that it is simply easier to buy something from an existing supplier."

The study found an estimated 17 percent of respondents use the tender process when shopping for IT solutions.

Commenting on the research, Mullins and Mullins IT manager Paul Isaac defended IT by pointing out that vendor selection must consider the level of service and trust with the current supplier.

"Our vendor is also our support crew - if there's something we don't have the in-house skills to do, they assist us, so naturally we factor this in when we approach vendors," Isaac said.

"We run Compaq and Toshiba laptops [so] I wouldn't consider going to Dell to make a bulk purchase there because I've never found the support satisfactory."

While Isaac is happy with current suppliers he does source quotes from competitors "to keep them [the vendors] honest".

"Our next purchase will probably be 30 PCs and we would probably get a couple of quotes just to keep our vendor honest and to know we are getting a reasonable deal," he said, adding that it is reasonable to assess both price and service, because support is critical.

"A small vender can't keep up with the big guys when it comes to service," Isaac said.

Gray Mercer project and sales manager Paul Byrnes said the amount of effort spent sourcing competitive quotes should be relative to the equipment needed.

"It depends on the scale of what is being purchased; buying a set of mugs is different to investing serious dollars in IT products" Byrnes said.

"If we were looking to buy a suite of antivirus or [anti] spamming software, we would look at the obvious players and compare their offerings against [unbundled] products from smaller companies."

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