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Why the Buying-Cycle Starts and Ends Online


Current business information has always been important to executives. In the past, they read newspapers and trade magazines for information on trends and developments. Not any more. Times have changed, and so has the source of buying-cycle influence.

According to the "Rise of the Digital C-Suite" study from Forbes Insights and Google, the Internet has become the most valuable information resource -- by far -- for U.S. executives.

Online ranked ahead of at-home and at-work contacts, personal networks, trade publications and outside consultants as an information resource. Newspapers and magazines trailed way behind.

When it comes to locating business information online, search engines were rated higher than other digital tools, such as blogs, social networking sites and subscription search services.

Although, ironically, the search results may lead executives to influential blog content that's typically ranked highly by Google and other search engines.

The most important type of information executives searched for online was competitor analysis (53 percent), followed by customer trends (41 percent), corporate developments (39 percent), technology trends (38 percent) and compliance and legal issues (26 percent).

Surprisingly, 53 percent of executives preferred to gather information themselves -- rather than delegate research tasks to lower level employees. Senior executives of all ages found the Internet to be a profoundly useful tool, according to the survey authors.

Online information sources will likely grow in importance, as executives under age 50 use new media tools more often than their older counterparts.

eMarketer, who reported on the results, says that C-suites will be transformed by this activity. I believe that Internet savvy executives will be more inclined to start and end their information discovery online, particularly in the process of procuring unfamiliar products or services.

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