SWZD Audience Survey Insights: Security, Cloud Architecture Are Top of Mind of IT Community


Earlier in March, we fielded a survey and asked the Spiceworks Ziff Davis (SWZD) audience to weigh in on their content consumption preferences, what technology topics are of interest to them and, more importantly, how we can approach our future coverage and iterate our products and offerings. We surveyed Aberdeen Strategy & InsightsOpens a new window , Spiceworks Community, Spiceworks Tools and Apps and Toolbox audiences for this study. A total of 535 readers participated in the study and of those surveyed – 18% are Network Administrators, 17% are IT Managers, 8% are senior IT executives while 3% are CEOs.  

Below, we dive into the findings specific to the Toolbox readers’ that spotlight key technologies of interest to the audience, what content formats they prefer the most and their preferred sources of content consumption. 

But before we do that, a big thank you to the audience and readers for adding their voices to the survey and providing feedback on what technologies matter most to them and how SWZD can engineer a tech-forward future for the audience. We couldn’t have done it without your support. 

Here are some of the most interesting takeaways from Toolbox audience:

1. What are the top three ways IT audiences consume information to support day-to-day activities, business strategies, and purchase decisions? 

For savvy tech buyers, it all starts with online research, which has become the mainstay of the pre-buying process. Nearly half of respondents (46%) comb through the internet to support business activities and strategies, while 35% dig into IT forums and blogs. Meanwhile, vendor sites (28%) and industry publications (26%) rank third and fourth, followed by industry subject matter experts (21%).  

Toolbox goes beyond buzzwords and helps sift out the substance from hype with deeply reported articles, interviews, news analysis, guest posts and videos on tech topics such as cybersecurity, cloud, networking and DevOps that helps businesses move forward and get the job done.

2. Which of the following information sources do you find most valuable for your day-to-day activities?

In terms of the most valuable information sources for understanding technology and its real-life applications, 64% of respondents find product reviews helpful. Over half of the respondents rely on editorial articles (57%) to understand and evaluate technology solutions. Most of them also rely on community forums (52%) and peer interactions and feedback (51%), while 39% of respondents find independent analyst research crucial for day-to-day research activities.

Toolbox introduced product reviews last year to better help readers evaluate their technology needs. Check out our cloud ML, cloud storage, backup, VPN reviews to determine which features/functions are must-haves and there’s more to come on enterprise asset management software. Plus, when it comes to technology purchase decisions, IT professionals rely on perspectives from their peers. Our Spiceworks community can help you make informed decisions when selecting tools.

3. Which information sources do IT pros find most valuable for strategic and long-term IT purchase decisions?

Technology decision-makers understand that the right technology purchase can make or break the company’s success. Hence, when evaluating a large-scale enterprise-wide tech purchase, IT decision-makers rely heavily on independent analyst research and product reviews (54%), while editorial content and vendor whitepapers come a close second at 48%. This is followed by peer interactions and feedback (46%) and community forums (38%). 

4. What are the top five content formats you prefer when consuming information to support your day-to-day activities, business strategies, and purchase decisions? 

Our survey also uncovered IT decision-makers’ preferred content formats for technology purchase decisions. According to the findings, how-to guides (46%) were the most preferred, followed by articles/blogs and webinars at 41%, respectively. This is followed by product reviews (39%) and hands-on labs at 33%. Technical spec sheets (26%) and product demo videos (25%) also figured in the list of preferred content formats. 

On Toolbox, readers can dive into in-depth articles, software reviews, how-to videosOpens a new window , ebooks and whitepapersOpens a new window and interviews to understand the most significant trends in technology and how they can embrace and utilize the tech innovations.

5. What are the three most critical IT topics IT pros searched for in the past two weeks, and what topics do they want to learn more about in the next six months?

We also took a pulse of the audience to understand which topics were top of mind. With cyberattacks hitting the headlines every month, it is evident that security is top of mind of IT leaders (38%), followed by cloud architecture (36%) and application deployment (33%). Additionally, some of the major topics of interest that the audience would like to learn about over the next six months are workflow and automation, martech trends, remote work, sales engagement and container runtime security. 

6. How many stakeholders are involved throughout the technology purchase process and what’s the tech buying cycle? 

All the key stakeholders who leverage that technology must be involved in the decision-making process, and the typical tech buying cycle is around six months. When it comes to enterprise technology purchase decisions, the buyers’ collective usually has about 13 stakeholders. And the stakeholders involved in purchase decisions are C-level executives, IT Directors, managers, network administrators and technical consultants. 

Toolbox supports C-level executives and IT managers leading operations with a breadth of content across Cybersecurity, Networking, DevOps, IT Strategy, Virtualization, IoT, 5G and 6G to help IT professionals stay-up-to date on technologies that matter most to them and evaluate purchase decisions. Our expert contributor panel helmed by leading industry analysts and experts provides readers unfiltered insights and technical know-how on a range of topics relevant to IT. 

Where Toolbox Hits the Mark

The audience has rated Toolbox highly, more than half (54%) rated the site 8 or more out of 10. For 41% of the respondents, Toolbox exceeds expectations in terms of providing timely updates on relevant content and the latest trends and providing content applicable to their needs and interests. Additionally, more than half (54%) of respondents say Toolbox helps them make more informed business decisions and close to three-quarters (72%) of respondents revealed they found Toolbox a valuable resource for learning IT trends and news.

What We Learned & Next Steps

One of the primary goals of running the survey is to understand your perspective and use the feedback to inform and revamp changes to the site. Users ranked top aspects of Toolbox and have also made suggestions on where they see room for improvement.

We heard you want improved navigation — we recognize that navigation is a big challenge on the site, and users require the functionality to navigate content categories properly. 

To that end, we are taking meaningful action and have initiated a site-wide project to restructure tags that map to our content categories and entities to specifically help users aid their navigation from one piece of content to other relevant content. In addition, we are also eliminating duplicate tags with little content to provide our users with an optimal site experience. Another improvement rolled out earlier last year was improved interlinking and related reads at the bottom of the article to help users find relevant content easily. 

Another area of concern is the search functionality, which is ripe for improvement. We are making updates to address the site search experience and help users narrow down what they need faster. 

We also heard the need for richer data to support buying decisions. We revisited our content strategy last year and rolled out product reviews that are useful to support or validate software solutions and discover the latest features in products. Plus, our top roundups on cloud backup, anti-virus tools, speech recognition software and business apps to simplify workflows aim to help technology decision-makers with information and expertise without any vendor bias. 

Some of the other questions dip into connecting with other IT professionals or IT vendors, asking specific IT questions related to their needs and interests, or answering specific IT questions from other people. For instance, a third of respondents value Toolbox for the depth and breadth of content, only 13% use it to connect to vendors. Similarly, only 10% of respondents could review or rate IT products or services on Toolbox.

Our sister site, Spiceworks community, provides a forum to connect, collaborate with IT peers, independent technical experts and leading vendors and share knowledge and expertise on software and products. You can read user reviews or share your experience with IT peers, ask questions and get them answered. This is your chance to get tips and advice from experienced IT professionals and weigh in on issues relevant to the community. 

We always welcome your feedback, suggestions and thoughts and this helps us point our energies and focus in the right direction. Again, I’d like to thank everyone who has taken time to complete this survey. I deeply value your readership over the years. If you haven’t taken the survey yet and are still interested in helping us better understand your content experiences, add your voice hereOpens a new window !