Switch from Telco Agent to Cloud Broker to Stay Relevant

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming an old friend, William "Van" Hefner back to the business of helping people like me create a career by performing the job of "trusted adviser" for businesses seeking telecom and technology solutions.

I met Van in the mid-1990's when we were both telecom agents - I had just started "One Plus Agent Association" and he was publishing the "Discount Long Distance Digest".

A lot has changed in 20 years. Van is launching his new "Telecom Sales Digest" at a good time because the job of "trusted adviser" has changed dramatically from when we could earn a living helping business customers switch their long distance from AT&T to MCI or Sprint.


What's a Cloud Broker and Do You Want to be One?

"Cloud Broker" is the name of the job title replacing "telecom agent" and yes, you definitely want to become one as business customers no longer have need for telecom agents.

Telecom Agents, like many other past job titles that helped customers sort through simple choices, have been replaced by

internet search engines. An apt analogy is to look at business communications technology like an iceberg. The part that sticks out of the water that you see is "voice" - very prominent in the minds of a business customer but a very small part of the whole picture.

Cloud Brokers help business customers understand, acquire and manage everything about the "business communications technology iceberg" they can't see. Customers no longer need help with what sticks out of the water - they need help with what's under the water.


How Does One Become a Cloud Broker? An example ...

current news story describes a communication technology challenge that many business owners may have keeping their fire and burglar alarms working due to a phone company technology upgrade.

A telecom agent would respond by calling the phone company to say "how are you going to fix this problem". A cloud broker would respond by explaining to the customer what caused the problem and how to evolve past the challenge.

In this example Bright House is a phone company that uses IP (internet protocol) to emulate the properties of an analogue POTS (plain old telephone service) line that older alarm systems have used for 50 years to operate. Cloud brokers know that analogue POTS service is being retired by all phone companies and any technology systems still using analogue POTS needs to be evolved.

Business customers don't need help yelling at their telecom vendors. Business customers need help understanding how telecom is being integrated into "the cloud" and managing any and all of their business applications that are also being integrated into the business cloud.

How does one gain this knowledge? Research & self study. I have a multi-location customer with a zillion old analogue modem lines supporting ancient equipment monitoring solutions (the precursors to today's new machine-to-machine/M2M or Internet of Things/IoT) solutions. My customer wasn't in the position to replace all his old monitoring gear so we needed to come up with a way to mimic analogue phone service using IP telephony.


How did I overcome the challenge? Not by yelling at the phone company.


I solved the problem by pretending to be the customer trying to solve his or her own problem by typing every conceivable variation of "how to replace analog POTS alarm lines" into internet search engines. When I was done studying the problem and interviewing potential solution providers I wrote the POTS Consolidation Buyers Guide you see to the right.

A telecom agent solves customer problems by yelling at telecom companies. A cloud broker solves customer problems by understanding the nature of the business communications ecosystem the problem exists in and how to reorganize the ecosystem to produce a cost effective solution the customer wants to afford to prevent future challenges.


Analyze Vendors Don't Alphabetize Them

As we all learned in kindergarten, we sort blocks into alphabetical order by simply comparing the letter on one block to the letter on the block next to it. Telecom agents do similar simple sorts to technology vendors but customers no longer need simple sorts. Search engines and computers have that covered.

Customers need their business communication technology blocks compared not to just the adjacent block but every other block in the room and then every other block in the country and then every other block on the planet because the internet connects every block on the planet to every other block on the planet.


Process Technology Vendors Like Spreadsheets Process Numbers

You know how an accounting spreadsheet program like Excel works. A spreadsheet software program answers the question, "If the cost of widget produced in Seattle increases by $3, how does that change shipping costs in a Los Angeles or Denver distribution hub?"

Cloud Brokers need to be able to answer similar communications technology questions for business customers like, "If my Phoenix office suddenly needs to upload a 2 gig file once a day to my Los Angeles office between 10am and Noon, how will that affect the quality of a video conference between San Diego and Chicago at 11am?"


Can You Do It? Yes!

I used to be a telecom agent but now I'm a cloud broker.  My endless learning journey began when I started reading Van's blog every day. Do the same!


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