As with Expert Networks themselves, different Expert Network Aggregators have been set up with different business models and aim to provide different services to their customers. Which aggregator you choose should therefore be a reflection of what services you want to receive.
It is also important to note that Expert Network Aggregators act at least in part as middlemen. Ultimately the service they provide is therefore dependent to some extent on the quality and motivation of the Expert Network partners they work with and the services these provide.
For any aggregator to work effectively for the end customer therefore, it is essential to make sure the aggregator’s business model aligns incentives for both the aggregator itself, and its partner expert networks, firmly with the interests of the client. Any conflict of interest can severely reduce the quality of service.
Here are some things to consider when working with different types of aggregator:
Some aggregators run their own network of experts alongside their platform for third-party expert networks, and are therefore ‘hybrid’ providers. This can be beneficial – as there are more experts to choose from. However, a potential problem is the ‘aggregator’ will almost certainly get a higher margin for putting forward their own experts compared to experts from third-party networks. Therefore (i) the aggregator might be incentivised to prioritise its own experts over those of a third party and (ii) the third party expert networks will know this and might have less incentive to work hard to find the best experts for the aggregator on the client’s behalf.
Clearly therefore, with hybrid models it is important for clients to see that a transparent process is in place to manage how experts are put forward in such cases. This can be as simple as complete openness – i.e. guaranteeing that clients will get to see all experts put forward by partners
Whilst it is legitimate for an aggregator to protect their business. Overzealous ‘non-competes’ can discourage better expert networks from working with an aggregator as this can mean losing / ruling out a potential big direct client. As a client, it may be worth understanding non-compete agreements that the aggregator is asking for to make sure these are not too restrictive for either you or the expert networks
There are obvious privacy and data security implications of sharing information too widely. In addition to this, from the client perspective there is little added value from having project briefs sent to less relevant expert networks. From a partner perspective, this can meaning being asked to do a lot of sourcing work with very little chance of getting business. Ultimately this reduces partner incentives and by extension the quality of the sourcing work they are prepared to put in. Make sure the expert network aggregator you choose to work with has a policy in place to make sure they involve only their expert network partners that are relevant and optimal for each individual project brief
This comes down to your individual choice as a customer. Some customers may prefer to choose which expert networks their briefs are forwarded to. Others may not know who amongst the expert networks on offer are best for any particular brief and prefer the aggregator to use their own knowledge to choose for them
For the aggregator to act as a single entity they need to take sufficient control of the provision of experts such that – from a legal, security and compliance perspective – they take on all the responsibility of providing the service. Not all aggregators are prepared to do this. Some customers are happy to do this. Others do want the extra hassle and workload of onboarding more suppliers than necessary
Whether you are a user / customer or an expert network, if you want to participate in the Consverge transformation you can register on our platform at https://portal.consverge.com/ or reach us at: firstname.lastname@example.org