Information brokers are researchers who sell information. The Age of the Internet and the spread of computers into every facet of life has made information brokering a viable small business.
Before the computer revolution, a small scale research service would not have been able to retrieve, catalogue, store and sell information to clients in a cost-effective way.
The explosion of information - thanks to the Internet - allows businesses to gain access to new data on general and specific subjects that affect them. To keep a competitive edge, businesses must keep abreast of the latest developments in their fields and conduct various forms of market research.
However, many businesses lack either the time or the money to hire others on a full-time basis to sort through the mountains of publications that might contain the data they are seeking - even on the Internet.
This is where the information broker steps in. Normally hired on a per-project basis, the broker finds information in published and/or electronic sources, organizes it in a form that best suits the client's needs, and sells it based on the time expended and the expertise involved.
In some ways, an information broker resembles a clipping service of the old days; both the information broker and clipping service professional gather data on a specific topic from a variety of sources, i.e. newspapers, magazines, etc.
But this is where the similarity ends. Clipping services search publications for articles containing key words and submit the clips in the bulk to the client. These articles are neither read nor analyzed by the clipping service. The client is left to sort through the data to see if they are useful.
The information broker, however, not only obtains information from public libraries or at wholesale prices from electronic databases but also analyzes the material to ensure its usefulness to the client.
Depending on the agreement between broker and client, the broker may even be expected to present an in-depth analysis of the information.
Brokers who produce reports based on their information, rather than just finding the information, are the ones who tend to make more money.
It is better to specialize in one or two fields of information rather than becoming a general information broker.
A new info broker who approaches a big corporation and claims to be able to do database searches on any subject will not meet with much success. Our increasingly specialized society demands experts in every discipline, even information retrieval.
Specialization is the key to success as an information broker.
Why would a company hire an individual entrepreneur instead of a large brokering firm to retrieve general data? One good reason: companies often complain that the large brokers don't offer as much.