In the fast-moving world of technology, new trends are always emerging—and firms are challenged to figure which ones to address vs. which ones to leave behind. As part of a new body of research, a number of tech firms (along with firms from six other industries) were surveyed about their top business challenges and marketing priorities for 2015. The results are intended to offer insight into the best approaches for driving success in the coming year.
The Hinge Research Institute collected responses from 530 professional services firms from the fields of accounting and finance, technology, marketing/communications, A/E/C, legal, and management consulting.
Across industries, firms had many common concerns.
It’s apparent that developing new business opportunities weighs heavy for professional services firms. And tech firms are no different.
Top Five Challenges
When we pull the numbers of technology firms specifically, we see some strong correlations with the overall rankings—and a few noticeable exceptions as well. Let’s take a deeper look.
1. Attracting and Developing New Business
Technology firms are right in line with the rest of the professional services community in their concern to develop new business opportunities. With 63.8% of respondents ranking this as a high-priority challenge, compared to 72.1% of all respondents, the tech world isn’t quite as concerned with developing its client base as other professional services industries.
This is likely due in part to the emergence of many firms offering Software as a Service solutions—and thereby retaining customers as subscribers over long periods of time. With clients tethered to ongoing services and platforms, garnering new professional relationships isn’t quite as urgent as in some other industries. Though with more and more powerful service platforms coming to market, competition for a finite number of clients will only make this challenge more critical in the days ahead.
2. Finding/Keeping Good People
The tech world demands the best talent. Because failure to hire and retain employees with highly specialized skillsets and certifications can mean disaster—even critical security breaches—technology firms consider this challenge a higher priority than the aggregate of respondents (at 42.6% to 36.9%).
The current trend of employee-centric, people-first tech firms will likely continue well into the future, as nurturing the professional growth and the happiness of their staff allows these firms to keep premium talent.
3. Innovation/New Ideas
No other industry ranked innovation in their top five challenges. This says a lot about how critical new ideas are to the technology industry. Technology is a crowded space—and when many firms offer similar products or services, some will fall by the wayside.
What will make the difference for the survivors will be innovation. Not only innovating with new ideas, but with ideas that are relevant to their clients. Innovation that doesn’t address buyers’ needs won’t win any new clients. To avoid this trap, client and market research need to be key parts of the tech industry’s marketing strategy in 2015.
4. Dealing With a Difficult Economy/Competitive Marketplace
With 27.7% of technology firms identifying economic/market-driven challenges as high-priority, and 28.3% of all respondents agreeing, the tech industry is right in line with other professional services firms.
When competing for business opportunities, it’s important for firms to differentiate themselves—to find ways of setting themselves apart culturally or technologically. As with innovation, finding top differentiators takes research and deep insight into how your firm stands out from others. Firms must talk to clients, to employees, and to partners in order to find out what has set them apart in their collaborators’ eyes, and what hasn’t.
5. Dealing With Client Demands/Expectations
Businesses have become highly dependent on technology. With clients expecting more and more from their service providers, technology firms are called upon to deliver top-notch solutions and to be experts in their field. This means serious quality control on the front end and unparalleled customer service on the back. It’s no wonder this ranks in the top five challenges of tech firms.
We expect a lot from technology services firms—innovating with new ideas, developing solutions, and excelling at customer service are high on the list of expectations. The key marketing challenge for these firms is making sure that client needs are being met and that new ideas and new solutions are relevant to those needs.
If you’d like to find out more about the research study, we invite you to download the free report, 2015 Professional Services Marketing Priorities. You’ll learn more about the challenges discussed, as well as the marketing initiatives favored by the technology industry as they push forward in 2015.