Salary Survey Extra: Are IT pros savvy shoppers?

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Salary Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Do you read product reviews before completing a technology purchase?The young bucks of the IT certification world probably have almost no memory of a time before you could buy anything and everything by going to a website, adding something to your shopping cart, and then entering your credit card information (or, better still, simply choosing which saved credit card with which to complete your purchase).

An ever foggier notion, however, is probably that of an era when “product research” meant visiting a store and talking to a salesman, or possibly heading to the public library to read back issues of Consumer Report. In 2017, when mountains of information are just a thumb swipe or mouse click away, anyone can be a savvy shopper.

Not only can we buy everything online, we can get any sort of product information that we lack online. Including, critically, the invaluable opinions of other consumers who have direct experience using whatever it is that we want to purchase. Want to know how well that new flatscreen TV works? Dozens, often hundreds of people who’ve already bought and used one are eager to share.

Frankly, we’re rapidly moving past the point at which consumers even read product reviews before completing a purchase. Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone to say, Amazon, looked up the thing you want, and merely compared the aggregate five-star ratings on different products for several seconds before choosing which of them to buy.

Yes, the noise you just heard was the sound of everyone reading these words raising a hand. Even the most savvy shopper among us occasionally wants a modicum of purchase data, but probably isn’t going to sweat that $10 or $20 item too much.

At the end of our recently completed 2016 Salary Survey, in the Not-So-Serious section of the survey, we took a moment to explore the phenomenon of online product reviews. In this specific case, we questioned survey respondents about purchasing IT (or IT-related) products.

Do you tend to rely on your own knowledge of IT, as well as your personal experiences with products and brands, when contemplating an IT purchase? Or would you rather see what 425 other people think of that wireless router, or new tablet, or set of external speakers, or whatever it is that you’re about to purchase?

Here’s the picture that emerged:

Question: How much weight do you give user reviews when contemplating a new IT purchase?

I read several reviews to see what glitches get mentioned. — 42.4 percent
I read as many reviews as I can find. Data = good. — 27.1 percent
I read a couple of reviews, but mostly look at the overall five-star rating. — 14.1 percent
I both read and write product reviews. People helping people makes the world a better place. — 11.6 percent
None. I know what I want. Who cares what anyone else thinks? — 3.2 percent
None. Everyone in the world but me is an idiot. — 1.6 percent

Interestingly, it would seem that there are far fewer self-assured cranks in the IT world than many might have supposed. Most IT pros, apparently, want to perform at least some level of due diligence before parting with their hard-earned cash, no matter how informed about technology they may consider themselves to be.

And given that fewer than 5 percent of those surveyed don’t consult reviews at all, the real heroes of the IT purchasing realm are the 11.6 percent of survey respondents who write reviews in addition to reading them. Well done. You guys are carrying the water for all the rest of us.

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CertMag Staff

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Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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