Pulse Flash Read: Categories, choice and change Sometimes the SaaS market can feel like a sea of never ending acronyms and shorthands that everyone pretends to know the meaning of. It’s reached the point where hierarchies have broken down, and you probably aren’t alone in wondering where exactly TOTP fits into your CIAMs and your PAMS, while AWS is covering your SSO but someone called URI is injecting SQL in your what now..? Humans like categories, but, just as we like watching one more episode of The Sopranos at 2:30am, our need for quick satisfaction doesn’t help us achieve our goals. How often do your Google searches begin with the word ‘best’? And how often has this given you what you were looking for quickly, rather than turned into an entire evening of listicles and more questions than answers? Wasted time searching through what may well be paid features for something that might not even suit your goals. Megan Heuer, of SiriusDecisions, had this to say on the problem of categorization in B2B buying choices:  “Because we’re trained to begin with the category, we enter a buying process completely without critical business need context. The result is technology investment set up for failure from the start.” Think about when someone wants to buy a home. That process probably doesn’t begin with a ‘best home’ search (although the way the Toronto skyline is filling with identikit condos, this might be changing). Individuals define their goals for the lifestyle they desire and then begin looking for houses in an area that brings them closer to those goals, then further define that by house features. Why shouldn’t business decisions be made the same way? Sheena Iyengar (who describes herself brilliantly as a ‘psycho-economist’) has spent decades researching how too much choice leads to analysis paralysis and no action (which, incidentally, is why I end up watching The Sopranos again after spending an hour trying to choose between the infinite other streamable TV shows). Iyengar’s research shows that choice overload reduces engagement, decision quality and satisfaction. Think about that in the context of your budgeting decisions as you deepen your digital offerings.  The key to subverting choice overload, as Megan Heuer outlines, is to define your goals first, setting a clear agenda of what you’re looking for from a business perspective. While this reduces the number of categories you’ll have to choose from, there’s probably still many, many options to hit those goals. At Pulse, we’re addressing the choice overload problem by giving tech execs real-time access to what their peers think. Our Product IQ Reports compare the most-used software offerings in a particular space, such as RPA, based on the experience of the tech execs using them. But the reports aren’t the end of the process: execs can just straight up ask the community what they think of ‘Zero-Trust’ and who does it best? You can find what works for your business needs by speaking directly with your peers about how they defined and achieved their goals, and what software helped or hindered that process. Being open and sharing that information cuts out the whirr categorization creates in the B2B space.  We simple humans might always need to categorize things to some extent, that’s just a limit of language. So, until Elon Musk perfects his brain computer interface and Google figures out how to truly match our intent with the perfect tool, let’s help each other find the tech that will deliver what we need. Do you feel overwhelmed by categories when making purchasing decisions?

27 views4 Upvotes3 Comments

GVP in Software, 10,001+ employees
would love your thoughts on this!
Former Chief Technology and People Officer in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I would not say overwhelmed but finding more and more there are categories that simply don't exist and no clear direct competitors for many solutions but rather multiple competitors that overlap in certain areas.....
CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I don't feel overwhelmed. I prefer "a la carte" pricing and multiple options in most of my purchasing scenarios as I believe it provides the best insight into what's available and what I can/need to get for the money I have to spend.

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