Research conducted by I&T, Bank Systems & Technology and Wall Street & Technology toward the end of 2007 suggested that most insurers will enjoy spending increases in 2008, so it may be fortunate that some new advisory firms have emerged over the holiday season to help guide them in their choices. Matt Josefowicz's move from Celent to Novantas has resulted in the launch of new research and advisory services subsidiary Novarica; and former TowerGroup analyst Deborah Smallwood has left her carrier executive post at ICW and teamed up with IBM alumna Cindy Maike to launch Smallwood Maike & Associates. These firms' advisory offerings differ, but they have in common a hybrid approach to advice, mixing elements of their founders' analyst background with other elements.Novarica departs from what Josefowicz refers to as the dominant "Gartneresque" advisory model based on research subscription for one based on an annual retainer that gives clients access to the analyst or consultant. "We see the opportunity to provide information, insights and perspective on technology strategy issues for CIOs with a bit more flexibility in terms of how those insights are delivered," he says.
Depending on the needs of the client, published research may be the best option for conveying information, Josefowicz elaborates. In other cases, however, "it's more effective to trade e-mails or have a conversation with the person who has done the research and has the insight," he adds. "If one's business model is based exclusively on published research, it's hard to capture the value of those interactions-which is where a great deal of the value is created within an advisory relationship."
Josefowicz sees the hybrid character of the Novarica approach in its combination of the economics of a subscription relationship with the personalization of traditional consulting.
Smallwood Maike & Associates seeks to combine the research expertise of analysts within a more traditional consulting format, and unlike Novarica, will place heavy emphasis on the business rather than the technology side, according to Deb Smallwood.
In Smallwood's vision, the insurance industry is poised for transformative change, but recent advances in technology have ironically reinforced the business/IT divide in important ways. "We believe that services-oriented architecture [SOA] is a way to help facilitate change, but SOA must not be understood as an IT breakthrough," she argues. "It's not just about technology, it's about business solutions. If executives can think about their business in terms of services, then they can reach the agility that everyone is talking about."
Smallwood plans to leverage best practices from the traditional consulting world and combine them with the benefits of the analyst's research acumen. "We want to build the best of those worlds into an advisory firm that works with businesses to leverage mature technology and get them to think differently about their business operations," she says.Matt Josefowicz's move from Celent to Novantas has resulted in the launch of new research and advisory services subsidiary Novarica; and former TowerGroup analyst Deborah Smallwood has left her carrier executive post at ICW and teamed up with IBM alumna Cindy Maike to launch Smallwood Maike & Associates.