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Single vs Multiple Vendors: Asking the Right Questions

In today’s business landscape, growing businesses are constantly on the lookout for ways to get ahead of the competition, including investing in technology to help them increase employee productivity and competitiveness.1 Now more than ever, the spotlight is on a small or mid-sized business’ (SMB) technology investments and how they align with business priorities.2

In the midst of all the deliberations and questions around technology investments, one on-going debate always surfaces: should your business choose a single IT vendor, or work with multiple vendors?

The answer is: there is no right or wrong approach.3 It depends on your company’s strategy and business priorities, as well as budget considerations, and the relationship and trust you may have already built with your existing vendor.

However, there are also clear pros and cons of a single- or a multiple-vendor technology strategy. These advantages and disadvantages deserve another look, especially when one considers that worldwide IT spending was projected to reach $3.5 trillion in 2017,4 with total IT spend by SMBs expected to reach $568 billion the same year.5

A single vendor may be the right choice for your business if:

·  Managing multiple vendors becomes a complex affair, especially when it comes to uptime and availability.

·  You have invested time and resources learning a certain product range and need the familiarity to work on a stable and reliable operating environment with one vendor.

· “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.” If you have an excellent working relationship with a single vendor who looks after your IT needs well, why add complexity with new vendors?

· You do not need every component in your IT stack to be best-of-breed. A functional, reliable, and predictable system is enough to achieve your business goals.

Some experts prefer a single-vendor approach for the reliable and smooth operating environment it provides6, and because there is value in streamlining your operations with a complete solution on a single platform.Likewise, there are instances when a multiple-vendor strategy works well.8

For companies, and especially growing small and mid-sized businesses, budget is a major consideration in every technology decision. Unless you have a full IT team with diverse expertise and the experience needed to manage a multiple-vendor relationship, a single vendor strategy is likely best to minimize equipment management and costs.