The Brookside Group, LLC
  The Telecom Consultant Bulletin
Insights, Viewpoints & Facts
from Telecom's Influencer Community

Produced by The Brookside Group
  March 2011

This Month's Theme:
The State of the Telecom/IT Consulting Market: The News is Good!

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Since 1997, The Brookside Group has conducted an annual State of the North American Telecom Consulting Market study. The scope of this annual study includes the consulting market's definition, classifications, size, growth, growth drivers, services/expertise, client mix (by size of client and vertical market), market influence, and consultants' use of industry vendor consultant programs (commonly called Consultant Liaison Programs).  


The study's findings are based on both an in-depth survey conducted among a revolving sample of industry consultants and updated consultant profiles compiled by Brookside, and maintained in our consultant database of more than 4,500 independent industry consultants in North America. Earlier this year, we conducted and completed our 2010 study reflecting the input from a total of 742 industry consultants; 276 who participated in the study's survey (13% response rate), plus an additional 466 updated consultant profiles compiled during calendar year 2010.   


The general definition we use to qualify and accept industry consultants into our database is summarized as follows: 

  • Independent, objective and ethical specialist;
  • Hired and paid by end-user clients - enterprise, SMB (mid-market and small business),  government;
  • Help their clients assess, plan, design, and/or integrate  communications networks, and choose the telephony,  video, and/or data communications solutions best suited to their clients' needs;
  • Help negotiate, procure, deploy, and manage the solutions.
Key findings from our 2010 study are highlighted below. Please click HERE to request a more detailed report.

Some important insights/perceptions that I have gleaned from both the study and our work with consultants and vendor consultant programs in 2010 include:
  • The telecom consulting market is growing and broadening in scope due to the convergence of traditional telecom (voice telephony) consultants and IT, network infrastructure and business process consultants; largely in response to and impacted by the evolution/deployment of Unified Communications;
  • Vendor recognition of/support for consultants as a significant channel of influence (see the market influence stats below) is also broadening and growing, but varies widely among vendors and market segments, and is resource constrained, i.e., not as effective as it can or should be; 
  • The consultant/system integrator (reseller) relationship needs more recognition, support and strengthening, and is a key factor in consultants' vendor solution recommendation decisions; 
  • In addition to delivering what consultants need most from vendors (see below), the number one success factor for an effective vendor consultant program is senior management recognition and support;
  • The challenge for vendor consultant program managers to attain senior management support is defining, measuring and reporting the program's contribution, i.e., "Share of Consultant Influence."  

Please excuse the length of my introduction to this bulletin, but I thought it was important to define the parameters of our study and share some insights to help provide context for the key findings summarized below.  



Mick Sawka

The Brookside Group

Consulting Market Growth      

Summary of Key Findings (Brookside's 2010 Study)

  • Telecom consulting in north America is returning to health, projected to grow between 8 - 9 % in 2011 on a revenue basis;
  • Unified Communications (UC) and UC-related applications, mobility, and wireless infrastructure will drive this growth, i.e., market need for consultants over the next two years;
  • Telephony/voice-driven solutions continue to represent the majority of consultants' engagements, with a growing representation of hosted/cloud solution considerations and recommendations;
  • Demand for telecom consultants in the U.S. continues to grow within the SMB market (mid-market and small business), which now represents nearly 60% of U.S. consultants' average client mix. This trend is less so in Canada where enterprise continue to represent more than 50% of consultants' average client mix;
  • How U.S. consultants classify or position themselves continued its gradual broadening, i.e., moving away from traditional telecom (voice telephony) consulting classification to broader IT, business process and engineering classifications. This trend is less true in Canada where telecom consulting maintained its traditional telephony classification focus with a growing business process/management consulting role.

Consulting Market Influence  

Summary of Key Findings (Brookside's 2010 Study)

  • Consultants in both the U.S. and Canada are evenly horizontal in the range of services they provide their clients, ranging from up front strategic communications/network planning, to solution assessments/recommendations, through to deployment support;
  • U.S. consultants were more active in the healthcare and professional services verticals compared to 2009; while Canadian consultants worked more in financial services, education and government;
  • Consultants averaged 6 - 7 client engagements in which they recommended specific vendor solutions to their clients;
  • The total average sales dollar value, per consultant, of their communications solutions recommendations to their clients increased 8% to $7.9M among U.S. consultants, and increased 19% to $7.5M among Canadian consultants.

Consultants' Use of Vendor Consultant Programs   

Summary of Key Findings (Brookside's 2010 Study)

  • Vendor consultant programs are consultants' 2nd most preferred source of vendor information and support, after their personal contacts within the vendor organization;
  • More than 90% of consultants selectively use and rely on vendor consultant programs; 
  • As rated by consultants, Avaya and Cisco are clearly the most widely used and effective consultant programs in the U.S. and Canada, followed by:
    • ShoreTel, Microsoft, Mitel, NEC and Alcatel-Lucent in the U.S.;
    • Bell Canada, Mitel, NEC, and Alcatel-Lucent in Canada;
  • The primary role and value of vendor consultant programs to consultants is providing them the information, insights and support they need to confidently determine when to include the vendor's solutions in their assessments;
  • What consultants want most from a vendor consultant program are program manager single point-of-contact, informative/easy to access web portal, informative/current email updates, consultant conferences.

Market News, Resources & Events  

  • Telecom Expense Management Software for Consultants: Valicom now offers consultants access to Clearview, an affordable web-based software tool for telecom consultants to use in delivering telecom audits and telecom expense management services. Click HERE for more details.
  • Consultant Program Membership Links - Not a member of the following telecom vendor consultant programs? Click on the links of interest below to register for these informative and helpful programs.
  • Consultant Program Directory - Need Vendor Consultant Program contact information? Click HERE to access Brookside's Directory of Telecom Vendor Consultant Programs.
  • Telecom Consultant Bulletin Archive - Click HERE to access all past issues of The Telecom Consultant Bulletin 

Questions, Comments, Suggestions?

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