Probrand Technology Magazine – a Good Read for IT Procurement Managers

The trend for marketing communications and publishing to move to purely digital and usually somewhat disposable media - like our blogs you might argue – has been strong in recent years. But the Probrand Group is taking a different approach and has now published two issues of its technology magazine. It’s available as a pdf and an on-line format, but it is also produced as a real, physical magazine. It is very nicely put together and the 48 glossy pages give it the look and feel of a high-quality product, in both digital and tangible form.

Probrand, founded in 1992 and headquartered in Birmingham, now consists of three businesses – specialist IT services business, Icomm Technologies, The IT Index (a B2B Marketplace for IT products) and software business, Mercato Solutions.

“Our aim with the magazine is to tackle contemporary issues relevant to commercial, procurement and IT teams”, says Peter Robbins, the MD, is his introduction. To declare an interest, I’ve written articles for each of the first two editions, this time on the UK government’s Digital Marketplace. The latest issue also includes a short interview with Sarah Hurrell, who is the IT category lead for Crown Commercial Service, as well as material on technology device trends and developments, ICT infrastructure and security, and the issues around BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Overall, there is a good blend of business focused articles with an IT theme, plus somewhat more techie stuff as well.

The front cover lead is “Intelligent Things – What will the future technology products look like?” And that article from Danny Bradbury looks at developments such as the Internet of Things and machine learning. It’s a good and interesting overview, and he finishes on a cautionary note.

“Quite how we’ll protect the sovereignty of our data in this new, hyperconnected world isn’t quite clear – and it isn’t entirely certain that the interests of technology companies and consumers will always be 100% aligned. Countless newspaper headlines over the last year and a half make a pretty convincing case that we haven’t even started to get privacy and identity right in the present. As the world advances towards context awareness, artificial intelligence, and computers that know you better than we do ourselves, we’d better learn quickly.”

I also liked Rob White’s short piece titled, “Can you really benchmark with Google”? He suggests – accurately, we suspect – that trying to do procurement and / or price benchmarking via Google has some inherent flaws.

“If the price is way below what you would expect and you don’t trust the online reseller, you need to start asking questions. Is it an original product or has it been reconditioned? Could it be counterfeit? Has it been shipped in from outside the EU? If it has come from Asia, for example, you may not be able to register the warranty and, if there is a problem, you may have to send it back to Asia to get it fixed. If the product does turns out to faulty, you also need to know the returns policy.”

All in all, it is an interesting marketing approach for Mercato, bucking the trend but certainly differentiating them from the average IT services firm. And the magazine is certainly worth a look for any IT category manager, we’d suggest.

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First Voice

  1. Simon:

    Hi – enjoyed the online issue and will subscribe to print – minor correction to your article though as it seems to be 84 page ad not 48.

    Thanks for sharing the review.

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