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What is a Technology Broker?

For this blog, I thought I would go into a little detail about what a technology brokers does, how they add value, and TBAA’s niche(s) in outsourcing, customer experience, and BI. First, let’s start with a description of what a technology broker does.

What is a Technology Broker?
The concept of brokerage services has existed for many years outside the technology world. We are all familiar with the role of Real Estate brokers. They bring buyers and sellers together and they facilitate purchasing property. While technology brokers do have some similarity to their counterparts in the real estate industry, the technology broker is more of an advisor and SME. Since the technology broker is a fairly new concept, a basic definition is in order. Technology Brokers are typically defined as trusted advisors, who use their specialized knowledge and experience in a specific area of the IT industry, to bring buyers together with the best possible solution providers to solve a specific problem. These solution providers can be software, hardware or service solution providers.

So a Technology Broker is that professional who can facilitate the delivery of projects/solutions by leveraging a partner network of proven specialty providers. The technology broker has a network of partners that they have vetted to understand which partner is best at solving a specific type of problem. Then they work with clients to determine which partner is the best solution provider for a current need that the client is trying to solve. If the best solution is outside of their partner network, they will work with the client to objectively evaluate the possible options and select the one that best meets the needs of the client.

So basically the technology broker helps the CIO/CMO/COO find, evaluate, and select the right product and/or vendor for a specific business problem.

Why is the Role of Technology Broker needed?
We have all felt the increased market demands placed on companies to compete efficiently. This is even more so prominent in IT. The business demand for proven, best of breed solutions is increasing in urgency and is putting IT departments in an extremely difficult position. The IT department must manage the status quo while also trying to keep up the constantly accelerating changes in solutions, tools, and processes. Previously it was possible for IT departments to be “all things to all people”, but it is getting impossible to keep up with the hundreds and hundreds of tools and solutions that are possible choices in today’s technology marketplace.

In addition to the accelerated pace of change in technology, there is also the challenge of knowing which partner is the best choice to solve a particular problem. Very often the CIO will go to a partner that they have used before. After all, if the vendor did a good job once then why wouldn’t they do it again? But unfortunately, as anyone who has worked in the consulting industry knows, there are vast inconsistencies in the quality of delivery from one practice to another, one consultant to another, or from one geographical area to another. There is no guarantee that a vendor will be good at one solution just because they were good at another. In fact, odds are, they won’t be. So how does a CIO stay in touch with the thousands of vendors that are selling solutions? How do they know which is the right vendor for solving a specific problem?

There is also an inherent conflict of interest in buying software or solutions. The vendor selling you the solution is not objective and they may know that a service is not world class, but they can’t tell you that without having the company mad at them. Shoot, talk to any ex-Microsoft rep and they will tell you that they were pressured to sell things that they knew where not ready for prime time. So there is an inherent flaw in the system, where the person who should be advising you as a customer, is in a position of dueling loyalties.

The Role of a Technology Broker
It is the role of the technology broker that can help to address these three situations. First, the technology broker’s role is to be loyal to the client. They do not have a company that they must split their allegiance to. At all times the broker’s first priority is to meet the needs of their clients in the best way possible.

A technology broker will also have knowledge, experience and research on all the different solutions in a specific area. As I said above, a good technology broker will know the software, tools and vendors in their specific niche area. I say niche area, because just as it is impossible for IT departments to know every solution or partner intimately, a technology broker cannot be an expert across all areas of IT. (And if they claim to be….run!) Typically a broker will specialize in one or two niches where they have knowledge and experience. Much like a Gartner analyst will focus on one area of expertise, a technology broker will research, study and develop deep relationships within one or two areas.

It is the role of a Technology Broker to objectively source the optimal vendor solution that delivers the highest-quality solution at competitive market rates. To implement their strategies, technology leaders will need to call upon the Technology Broker to serve as the advisor for sourcing services based on the client’s requirements and specifications. The functions of an individual Technology Broker may vary, but can include making recommendations, developing business cases, conducting partner or package selections, sourcing, negotiation, transition, and ongoing management advisory services.

The role of the broker is to provide services to help develop a business case, perform a package/partner selection, and provide overall advice on industry best practices. The broker makes sure that the best possible vendor is selected to deliver the clients project(s). They do this by utilizing past experience with the vendors, research, a vetting process, and continuous customer feedback. The broker will have a network of partners that have been vetted, and the broker will be familiar with the delivery track record for each solution that each vendor offers.

The Benefits
So what are the benefits of the Technology Broker? Technology Brokers will reduce operating expenses and project risk by objectively identifying the highest quality, and most cost-effective, solution and/or partner to solve a specific problem. Unlike traditional management consulting, Technology Brokers will deliver independent assessments that are customer-centric, not vendor specific. This results in the delivery of higher-quality solutions while lowering risk, fees, and project costs.

One benefit to the client is in having an industry expert who can provide guidance, assistance, and tools. These tools will help to objectively and quantifiably, choose the correct solution or vendor.

Specific value to the client is:
1) Objectivity by a customer centric advocate increases the probability of success
2) Specialized knowledge, research and expertise in a specific area will reduce research time and improve the decision making process.
3) Access to tools for creating a financial business case will enable the client to make smart, informed decisions
4) Proven tools and processes for identifying the right solution or provider will reduce the time to select a vendor and it will increase the reliability of the selection by quantifying selection criteria
5) Research into what vendors do what well. This will increase the probability of selecting the best vendor. It will reduce the chances of making the wrong vendor choice, and of of paying the high costs associated with making the wrong choice.
6) Access to solutions and vendors that the client may not be aware of. This access increases the probability that the solution will meet, and exceed, the expectations of the business.

Who are Technology Brokers & Advisors?
Technology Brokers and Advisors is focused on bringing value to our clients by delivering outsourcing, customer experience, and analytic solutions through a network of select, prequalified partners. TBAA works with growing, mid-sized companies that are considering outsourcing or who are trying to optimize their digital and BI investments. Our success is the direct result of the strong relationships that we have built with both our clients and partners. We strive to fully understand each client’s environment, goals, and challenges, and how our partners can contribute to their success.

So that is all for now. I hope this was informative and helpful. As always, please send me any comments that you may have to 407-489-4032 or I welcome any positive feedback or constructive criticism. Or if you just have a question or concern, please share them with me. Until next time, I wish you health, happiness and prosperity.