30 Aug 2018
What are the main challenges with expert networks?
"It's sort of like a love-hate relationship."
– Management consultant on expert networks
We recently surveyed more than 110 Management Consultants (MCs) and Investment Professionals (IPs) – power users of expert networks: “How important is Expert Calls, as a source of insights, to market and investment research at your company? (with 1 being “Not at all important source of insights” and 5 being “The top source of insights”)”.
Our respondents said that expert calls are important to their investment research, with MCs seeming to value them slightly more than IPs.
While expert calls are very valuable, managing expert networks comes with its own set of challenges. I had a chat with former MCs and IPs in the team, and they quickly cited ‘relevance’, ‘quality’ and ‘administrative hassle’ as some of their personal frustrations when engaging expert networks in the past.
So what exactly are the biggest challenges when engaging expert networks? The survey respondents cited multiple, and the top ones are showcased below.
Identifying relevant, high-quality experts
Both MCs and IPs have reflected that identifying the most relevant experts from those provided by the expert networks and the quality of experts engaged are the most challenging aspects of using expert calls. We have identified a few key contributory factors that lead to these challenges.
First of all, expert networks present their information in different formats and contents, and it may not be easy to make the most accurate selection. For instance, one network might provide you with an expert’s career history, while another network provides you with a brief summary of an expert’s experience instead. Choosing between two experts, especially those with similar profiles, might become frustrating and troublesome. It is also difficult to track the performances of expert networks with your company, or with specific industries, geographies and service lines. Such opacity and lack of information are elements that hinder MCs and IPs from making the most informed choices of networks and experts for different types of projects. With traditional methods of coordination with expert networks and sourcing of expert calls, it is indeed quite difficult to resolve these two major pains that our respondents are facing.
Administrative hassle is another challenge that caught our eye. While 40% of MCs indicate that administrative hassle is a major challenge, only 18% of IPs reflected the same sentiments. We think that this may have to do with the number of networks engaged and experts received. As shown in an earlier article we found that MCs engage 3 expert networks per project on average as compared to 2 by IPs. We also found out that MCs receive approximately 33% more experts per expert network as compared to IPs. Put together, this means they get twice as many experts suggested than IPs do. With more expert networks to coordinate and experts to manage, MCs experience more administrative inefficiencies when dealing with expert networks.
However, this does not mean that IPs can avoid administrative hassle completely. We’ve seen that MCs tend to engage more niche expert networks than IPs, for various reasons. In the event that IPs choose to broaden their research scope or source for more specialized expertise, they will inevitably come into contact with the same administrative pains.
Undoubtedly, expert calls are extremely valuable to investment research. Is there a way to avoid or minimize these associated challenges? The Inex One Expert Management System is specifically designed to mitigate these pains and improve the overall experience of managing expert networks and expert calls. With the Inex One EMS, users get access to more networks, get better visibility of networks’ performance and receive standardized information about experts recommended for a better comparison. With everything presented in one single dashboard, you are engaging more expert networks but with less administrative hassle. Interested to know more? Contact us.