The Evolution of Expert Networks

The inception of the traditional expert network model began in the late 1990s where it functioned in connecting researchers to a pool of industry experts. What initially started as a time-consuming process has since grown tenfold due to rapid innovations in technology—particularly, artificial intelligence (AI).

Investment researchers are retiring traditional expert networks and incorporating powerful expert insights into their comprehensive research strategies. As industry applications for expert insights expand beyond its more traditional niches in investment and consulting, companies across a range of industries are leveraging the value of expert insights to refine their services and gain competitive advantages.

AlphaSense, a leading market intelligence platform, has evolved the way researchers access expert insights with an extensive expert transcript library and one-on-one call services. With the power of artificial intelligence and generative technology, users can now access Expert Insights in seconds.

In this blog, we explore what traditional expert networks are and how industry experts have become more accessible through technological innovations.

Understanding Expert Networks

Expert networks are groups of subject matter experts (SMEs) used by third-party companies seeking high-level expertise in areas where their internal teams are unqualified to provide it. This could be something as common as savvy digital marketing or as complex as multi-stage mergers and acquisitions.

Expert networks are used in a wide range of scenarios but most commonly by investment firms seeking deeper knowledge about potential investments, as well as consulting firms looking to provide specialized expertise to clients.

Typically, the flow of communication works like this: expert network firms build their networks to include a wide range of SMEs. When consulting or investment firms are in need of an expert consult, they reach out to the firm, which connects them to the right expert. The investment or consulting firm pays the expert network firm, which then compensates the expert.

evolution of expert networks information flow

When conducting primary investment research, timeliness to relevant information is imperative. One challenge of expert networks is the lengthy, and often costly, process of connecting researchers to the expert before gaining access to critical information.

Expert network firms generally offer two pricing models for companies to access their resources. Subscription-based models work for firms who use expert networks frequently. They pay for a certain number of requests, often during a specific time period (ex: yearly). Transaction-based models are pay-per-use. This model is becoming less common as firms realize the necessity of integrating expert insights more deeply into their business models.

Accessing Subject Matter Experts

Industry experts typically work directly with companies across a wide range of industries. Therefore, experts typically represent an equally wide range of experience, backgrounds, and areas of expertise. Experts are generally executive-level professionals who have extensive experience with the topic, company, or industry at hand.

In decades past, the recruitment of experts relied heavily on building and maintaining industry connections. The internet and the resulting worldwide digital connectivity of the 21st century has radically transformed this process. Today, firms rely heavily on junior employees to do the bulk of their research, scouring online databases and networks like LinkedIn for experts who fit client requests.

The speed and scope at which experts can now be found have shifted recruitment from a long game of outreach and cultivation to a more on-demand approach that also leads to more specialized expertise and services for end clients.

In the image below, you can see how the model has changed over time since the infancy years of the expert network in the 1950s:

evolution of expert networks development of complementary services chart

Leveraging Expert Calls

Expert calls are the most common way firms access expert insights. In a survey conducted by Guidepoint, an expert network firm, respondents overwhelmingly indicated that expert calls are their preferred method of research — with more than 75% stating they use calls frequently.

evolution of expert networks guidepoint chart

Expert calls are typically about 30-60 minutes long and are conducted by a research analyst with the right background and knowledge to ask the right questions and work with the expert to get the information the client needs. They are typically recorded and transcripted so the end client can access the insights directly whenever they want.

Expert transcript libraries, like AlphaSense, have become a reliable source of expert insights for firms and companies who need to access industry expertise, especially during times of extreme market volatility. AlphaSense offers a centralized, searchable database with thousands of transcripts and recordings of expert calls. Users can use customized search terms like expert name, company name, industry, topic and more to find multiple expert insight calls all relevant to their current need. Ultimately, researchers can access call recordings and transcripts on-demand.

Many firms access expert networks for insights about specific projects and scenarios their company is handling, and in those cases they would want to connect with an expert directly. But expert call transcript libraries are becoming a hugely valuable resource in cases where firms seek more general insights and want to become more familiar with a particular company or industry over time.

For example, a private equity firm looking for target companies in the clothing retail industry may spend time in an expert call transcript library reading as many calls as they can to familiarize themselves with trends, important players, and potential opportunities to pursue.

We know that firms seek out expert networks to access knowledge they don’t have internally, but what are the specific ways they leverage those insights? It really depends on the industry, but here are some common ways:

  • Due diligence – Incorporating expert insight sources into due diligence processes to gain a better understanding of potential investments, deals, or other opportunities.
  • Client services – Obtaining specialized knowledge and expertise not present in-house in order to provide optimal services to clients.
  • Private market research – Working to better understand a particular company or industry.
  • Compliance – Navigating the rules and regulations of a highly technical or regulated industry to ensure compliance standards are met.

Expert Insights as the Future of Research

While traditional expert networks may be helpful in connecting business and investment researchers with industry experts, they are often time consuming and costly before final time to insight. Information may be more accessible than ever through innovations in technology, but it hasn’t replaced the value of high-level insights from human industry experts.

With AlphaSense Expert Insights, you have access to an expansive library of transcripts and one-on-one calls with former executives, customers, competitors, and channel participants across a range of industries. Expert Insights is an alternative structured data source with proprietary AI search technology and advanced NLP-based features, saving investors from the typical frictions that keep crucial insights at bay.

As the investment research landscape continues to evolve, the ability to quickly gather personalized insights from human experts remains at the heart of informed decision-making.

Discover how AlphaSense combines the power of AI with granular insights from industry experts in our white paper, The Future of Primary Investment Research.

Ready to evolve your primary research with Expert Insights? Start your free trial today.

Ees Qureshi
Ees Qureshi
Content Marketing Specialist

Ees is a Content Marketing Specialist at AlphaSense and responsible for elevating the brand of Expert Insights, a unique content set of alternative data, through the power of storytelling. Previously, Ees has been a seasoned copywriter across various industries throughout his career and also authored “masala chai,” an illustrated poetry book capturing his journey as a South Asian minority in America.

Read all posts written by Ees Qureshi