Celent Says

The Costs of Hiding From Vendors

Craig Weber
Insurance Experts' Forum, January 24, 2011

“Bob” is not the real name of the person in this story. But the rest of the story is true.

“Good afternoon, Bob [last name]’s office."

“Hi, this is Craig Weber from Celent. Is Bob in?”

“Uh, yes, he is. May I ask who is calling?”

“Uh, Craig Weber?”

“Oh, right. And you’re with?”

“Celent. [pause] We’re an analyst firm, and you all are clients.”

“I’m sorry, how do you spell that?”

“Celent. C-E-L-E-N-T. Celent.”

“Right. And you say we are clients of yours?”

“Yes, Bob has engaged us for our subscription-based research service.”

“Bob did? Are you sure? Did he, like, sign the contract? I don’t remember seeing that.”

“Well, I don’t know offhand who signed the contract. But he sure brought us in. We’ve known Bob a long time. We’ve done a lot of work for him through the years.”

“OK, well what’s this call about?”

“I need to talk to Bob about a consulting project that he e-mailed me about.”

“OK, well, that’s fine. Sorry for all the questions. I just can’t put anyone through to Bob without making sure who they are.”

As vendors, we get this reception from executive assistants a lot, from insurer clients and non-clients alike. It seems that the vendor community must be hounding the heck out of insurance execs, so much so that there are virtual bouncers protecting e-mail accounts and very inquisitive personal bouncers (EAs) guarding the phones.

It is understandable, for sure. Out of 100 vendor calls to an insurance exec, how many would prove to be immediately valuable if the connection were made? Two? Five? It’s a low number, even on the best of days. But the first problem is that it’s definitely not zero.

There are two other problems with this arrangement. First, it is a minor inconvenience for the people within related entities, like Celent and Bob’s company. But more importantly, it has created a mindset where if Bob doesn’t go exploring—and he is probably so busy in his day to day that he will not go exploring often, if ever—then Bob doesn’t maintain a good feel for new and interesting things that are going on in the industry. A world view that is completely inward facing is a real issue.

I don’t have a great solution at the ready. Issuing secret verbal passwords to business partners? Having execs use fake names on the company’s automated switchboard? No, life is complicated enough already, so adding another layer seems like a bad idea. But there is clearly a cost when every conversation begins with a game of 20 Questions. In this, the age of information overload, we all need to find a way to stay in the flow.

This blog has been reprinted with permission from Celent.

Craig Weber is SVP of Celent's insurance group, and can be reached at cweber@celent.com.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Craig using the “Add Your Comments” box below.

The opinions posted in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News or SourceMedia.

Comments (0)

Be the first to comment on this post using the section below.

Add Your Comments...

Already Registered?

If you have already registered to Insurance Networking News, please use the form below to login. When completed you will immeditely be directed to post a comment.

Forgot your password?

Not Registered?

You must be registered to post a comment. Click here to register.

Blog Archive

Driving Growth Through Distribution Management

In the current hyper-competitive marketplace, many carriers are focusing on improving their distribution practices as a key technique for driving growth.

The Start of a New Era: Digital Retailers and Insurance

Insurers from all around the world are making great efforts to become digital.

Google and Insurance: One Year Later

Google is getting the approval for selling insurance on their compare site in a large number of states via a number of different insurance partners.

How IT Managers Can Get Close to Policyholders

Four steps CIOs need to take to lead insurance organizations to greater “customer obsession.”

Strategic Initiatives for 2015: Making Sense of the Shifts

Insurers must choose between embracing innovation or just continuing with business as usual and run the risk of becoming a casualty in the new competitive battle.

To Stay in the Game, Insurers Must Aggressively Embrace New Consumer Technologies

Emerging technologies displayed at the CES could be some of the greatest change agents since the introduction of the Internet, offering breakthroughs that could challenge many businesses.