Unless their company employs more than 40 people, IT managers who want to play a more prominent role in the decision-making process should look elsewhere, according to the results of a survey released Tuesday.

London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research said choices around what technology products to buy and who to buy them from rests in the hands of non-senior IT executives in small enterprises, based on its poll of more than 4,000 businesses.

At companies employing 41-100 employee firms, on the other hand, 30 per cent of decisions were made by IT management. The number kept rising according to the size of the business, which more than half of all final IT purchase decisions made by IT management in companies with more than 200 people.

Info-Tech senior analyst Ed Daugavietis said the research was intended to identify patterns in how IT products were chosen, and how they budget and educate themselves about technology. Among smaller firms, the replies were fairly consistent, he said.

“It was very individualistic, very slanted towards executive management, not the IT group at all,” he said. “It basically left the IT group in a supporting role.”

The executive involved in the decision could have any number of titles, Daugavietis said, though in small business it tends to be presidents or owners.

“If you’re a new staffer and you want to go into management, you will find very small companies are difficult environments,” he said. “It’s probably great for learning the business, but in terms of actually exercising influence, which a good fraction of these folks want to do, it won’t happen there.”

The decision-making style changes as an organization’s size grows, Daugavietis added. At companies employing between 201 and 500 people, for example, about 40-60 per cent of IT decisions are made by an individual, rather than a group or a team. There was very little variation in the results across the industry segments Info-Tech surveyed, he said.

Although many experts have suggested IT needs to be a loud voice in the strategic direction of the enterprise, Daugavietis said IT professionals shouldn’t necessarily rule out a career in a small firms, which are estimated to make up the bulk of Canada’s economy. It all depends on what stage their careers are at, he said.

“Not everyone aspires to be a CIO and not everyone is at the stage where they’re ready to make that jump,” he said. “If you’re trying to develop your skills, or maybe you’re at the mid-stage in your career, you have time to  make that leap.”

Info-Tech plans to release more results from its SMB research in a series of modules later this year.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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