26 Jul 2023

Expert networks in 2023: News, trends and discussion points

Max FribergCEO at Inex One

Most large strategy consulting and private equity firms have Research Directors (RDs), who oversee the research partners' performance and costs. While some Research Directors do only light monitoring/ issue resolution, others drive an active agenda to build competitive advantages for their firm. In that latter group of RDs, we've frequently discussed four themes during 2023:

  1. Compliance post Capvision raids: How to protect your firm and research.

  2. Cost control in market research services.

  3. AI in the House: Can generative AI give us a competitive edge in market research?

  4. Should I build my own expert network?

We will explore each of these themes in blog posts over the coming weeks. But for starters, here's a high-level description of each one:

Expert network compliance post the Capvision raids

In November 2022, Chinese police raided the offices of Capvision, the largest Chinese expert network. Many Research Directors paused their firm's relationship with Capvision when the news story broke in May this year. However, the actual raids had happened long before that. Many Research Directors are now considering how to better protect their firm, stay compliant and stay alerted about any future material changes in their vendors.

Cost control in market research

The years leading up to 2022 were characterized by a hot market and strong expansion in the aftermath of the covid lockdowns. 2022 started with rising interest rates and macro turbulence from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The main effects on our client base have been slower dealmaking and fundraises, lower valuations and lower corporate budgets for indirect spend. This has forced strategy consulting and investment firms to take a closer look at their own operating costs, including the costs for market research services

AI in the house: Can generative AI give my firm an edge in research?

Following the release of ChatGPT in Nov-22 and the subsequent wave of AI tools, Research Directors began exploring ways to apply user-friendly AI to their own businesses. The appeal is obvious: to better access, use & reuse insights within your firm. However, the field is evolving quickly and most firms are still learning and exploring early AI applications. Inex One recently began offering AI summaries and quality transcripts for free, with additional major AI features coming this fall!

Build your own expert network

Private equity firms have for long had networks of industrial advisors: up to a few hundred senior executives that they engage in deal sourcing and portfolio companies. In more recent years, some consulting firms have built their own "expert networks": a system to reengage former employees or particularly popular experts. The basic idea is to reduce the cost for accessing their insights. However it also introduces new challenges in administering the network and access to it, keeping it fresh and building technology to run it.

We'll walk through each of these themes in blog posts over the coming few weeks. Stay tuned!

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