Our LinkedIn discussion board is seeing a lot of activity recently based on a member-provided post, "Does industry analyst research always represent the right perspective of the marketplace?" The question has spurred comments from a variety of areas within the industry. But the comment that stood out was "Why do insurers need research at all? What prevents them from sharing what works and what doesn't in public forums such as LinkedIn?"

The line between analysts and consultants has blurred over the past 20 years. Many analyst firms have consulting arms, and therefore, are perceived as one in the same. This debate is one for another time and place. Staying on task, let's get back to the question about the need for research.

If you're reading this magazine, you know the industry. You know that insurance CIOs trust their peers more than any other source, but you also know many insurers are hesitant to talk publicly or confidentially about their projects, especially what didn't work.

And, what if there were no existing implementations, yet? There has to be third-party information-analysts, consultants, trade publications. And the insurer has to seek it out. You don't know what you don't know. And, what you don't know could—positively or negatively—change your business.

One respondent to the LinkedIn post offered a similar suggestion, tasking the insurer. "The only way this model is going to change is by insurers becoming more discriminating on the demand side of the equation." He goes on to suggest insurers ask for original, primary research, for which they establish the specific, targeted criteria.

What if, for financial or other reasons, you can't get original research? You have to do your own research on the existing research. Are there other solutions out there? Are all of the vendors profiled customers of the analyst firm's consulting arm? Are there other analysts that have more experience in the area you're evaluating? It's through due diligence that results are revealed and success is achieved.

"Why do insurers need research at all?" So the industry can continue to evolve. Analysts and consultants are vital to this industry, each serving a role in different areas. Now, if there were just an analyst to assist in the selection of an analyst or consultant for a certain project, we'd be set.

Did I miss a vital point in this discussion? Have suggestions for successfully working with an analyst or consultant? Join our LinkedIn group and share.

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