Risky Business

Although New Vantage and Insight are basically providing a similar service — risk mitigation — unlike Insight, Boston-based New Vantage is hired by F1000 CIOs to find and vet new technology companies that are well beyond start-up stage. Typically these companies already have significant revenue streams and at least one F1000 client, said New Vantage Co-Founder Randy Bean.

“We’re really addressing, in many respects, the same needs but coming at it from a couple of different points,” said Bean of the two different business models.

Insight’s services are describe by Insight CIR and former Elf-Atochem CIO and Senior Vice President, Bob Rubin, as the much-sought-after “win-win.” But there may be some truth to this catch-phrase, according to the Yankee Group’s Phil Fersht, director of Business Application research for the Boston-based analyst house.

“We need a better vehicle for getting start-up companies to market,” he said. “It’s very important, particularly in the U.S., we continue to innovate with technology and, to do this, the roots come from the start-ups. If you can start a business which can help get (start-ups) in front of the right people, good for them.”

Insight and New Vantage not only save CIOs time, effort and guess work, but also aid vendors by getting their technologies into the hands of decision-makers. Most of the time, says Fersht, starts-ups struggle to get recognized because they have no brand identity.

For CIR Eric Dean, the former CIO of United Airlines who was definitely on the hot seat in the days after 9/11 when United was grounded, having a start-up’s technology to help with rescheduling tens-of-thousands of passengers was a real definite plus.

“A CIO who is able to keep current with the bleeding edge is able to respond to those kind of challenges with a more useful reaction,” says Dean.

Insight and New Vantage also help CIOs by circumventing the normal information gather process. Most CIOs agree their peers are the best source of information about new technology but these folks are all in the same boat with little time to devote to anything new. Relying on internal staff is another way many gather intel, but often IT staffers provide a view slanted by personal affection for certain platforms and technologies.

Then, of course, there is the career risk factor, i.e. choose the wrong technology = loose your job, says Dean. The basic idea behind Insight and New Vantage is to mitigate this risk by having what amounts to a peer-review system for new technology.

“We view the ultimate market that we’re trying to serve as the F1000 buyers,” said Bean, “and we’re trying to bring to their attention new, highly-differentiated solutions that can help them solve a problem that they are unable to solve today through their existing investments and that they’re probably not aware of.”