It can take months to find and purchase a business technology. We spend hours and hours comparing technologies and vendors. And although price often trumps many of our concerns, that doesn’t diminish their importance.
Here are three key things to keep in the forefront of our minds when choosing a technology vendor:
1 Industry Expertise
Industry expertise informs technology. Therefore, technologies are only as good as their creators. As a first step, we need to choose vendors that are true experts in their field.
If we hurt a knee, we might go to our general practitioner for a first exam, but we’d likely end up at an orthopedic surgeon’s office. The difference is level of expertise.
In tech development, there are general practitioners and there are specialists. Vendors who make generalized business technologies are the Renaissance Men and Women of the tech world—they do many things well but nothing spectacularly.
If we want a technology dedicated to a specific purpose, a specialist vendor will logically provide a better product. Not only that, but a specialist vendor will provide better support, especially if they handle support in-house with the same expertise going into their technology.
2 Wholesale Vendor, Not Reseller
Many, many technology vendors are resellers of another company’s technology. They’re limited by lack of expertise and even lack of resources. We’re far better off going straight to the original vendor, if possible.
Whether resellers are adding a piece to a larger offering (generalized enterprise technologies) or only selling the one piece, they’re middlemen.
With automated voice systems, for example, wholesale vendors create the technology and platform on which it runs. Resellers license the technology to build voice applications on the wholesale vendor’s platform and infrastructure.
IVR resellers are entirely dependent on the wholesale vendor—for uptime in the cloud, updates to the technology and platform, support…everything except the creation of individual apps for customers.
Meanwhile, the wholesale vendor created the technology, holds all the intellectual property rights and has all the expertise. It doesn’t make much sense to go to a reseller.
3 In-House Support
With a reseller, we’re getting outsourced support. With any luck, that support comes directly from the wholesale vendor, but that’s not always the case.
If the technology we’re buying is ancillary, maybe less-then-stellar support is okay? No. Less-then-stellar support is never okay. And if the technology is mission-critical, like call center automation, stellar support is a must.