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Knowledgespeak Exclusive -- An interview with Mr.Chris Forbes, CEO, Knovel Corporation - 15 Sep 2006

Q

Please comment on Knovel’s virtual library and analysis tools designed for scientists and engineers. How do these services actually help in reducing the time spent on research and analysis?

A

Knovel has been referred to as “Bloomberg for engineers.” It saves users hundreds of hours of research time, annually, because users can call up critical information quickly, compare it to other sources, actually interact with the graphs, charts and tables of published and unpublished works, and inject them into their own work. The company aggregates high-value content from publishers and builds its own databases.

The best way to fully understand is to use an example from one of our customers. One of the top 10 global engineering, consulting and construction companies specializing in infrastructure development in energy, water, information and government markets did the following analysis: They first conducted a 2-year analysis of five online sci-tech reference products and selected Knovel over the competition. Through internal test studies and feedback from engineering professionals that were involved in the trial they conclude the following:

19                    Hours of time saved annually per employee
$37.00               Engineering professional hourly rate
$705.00             Individual productivity savings per year
2,000                 Engineering professionals using Knovel
$1,418,000.00   ANNUAL SAVINGS FROM USING KNOVEL

These users no longer need to pull a book from the shelf, go to a library, search aimlessly on-line…rather they have a single point solution that delivers exactly the data they require to the point of need at the point in time they need it.


Q

Briefly highlight on how your patented database architecture helps to integrate the functionalities of a database with the look and feel of a book?

A

Knovel delivers pages (such formats are familiar to users) and marries them to relational databases within a structured indexing system - allowing an unlimited number of content sources to work together. This allows users the flexibility of navigating through a document page-by-page, as one would read a book, or to search, sort and manipulate pages, live tables, live graphs, images and easily drill down through complex data. Relational indexing allows users to search specifically across thousands of references in all forms (e.g. books, relational databases, trade literature) and return results that are tailored to their needs. Knovel is the first service to achieve the seamless integration of textual and database paradigms.


Q

How many publishers, content references and subject areas does your virtual library currently cover? What are your plans regarding scaling up Knovel’s virtual library to other subject areas and/or publishers?

A

We cover 40+ publishers, 1,000 “best-of-breed” content references, 25,000,000 database entries, and 18 subject areas. Our collection will increase by nearly 50% in 2007 and we will add, roughly, 10 new content providers. We are particularly focused in up-stream energy, aerospace, and discreet manufacturing - as the vast majority of revenue comes from corporations.


Q

Many of Knovel’s science and engineering data tools are available for free. Can you please comment on the degree of success of your hybrid model which accommodates both paying customers and individual free accounts?

A

We offer a material amount of content for free, primarily in the academic market. All of the content we offer for free, which is generally high value chemical data, is owned by Knovel. We do this as a thank-you to academe in general as they have been tremendously supportive of Knovel and our strong growth. In fact, we provide free access to significant content to almost 1,000 institutions around the world and are pleased to provide access to any institution that would find chemical property information useful. Although, this approach is not entirely altruistic as the graduates of these institutions become our end users in the future and it is our goal to have those graduates demanding to know “where’s my Knovel” when they land at their first job.


Q

In what ways are partnership with institutions like Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) and the New York Common Retirement Fund (CRF) helping a young and growing company like Knovel? Can you share any statistics on the rates of return and the number of jobs that have been created so far?

A

As a New York State-based company, we have enjoyed tremendous support from both private and public institutions in the state. This is not limited to the ones you mention. The funds invested by these institutions have allowed us to grow a substantial and vibrant workforce in Binghamton, NY. Many 10’s of jobs have been created and Knovel enjoys a compound annual growth rate that is a multiple of the industry standard.


Q

To what extent do you consider that online information services like your virtual library will replace traditional publishers and their print versions? What do you think will be the balance between online and print versions, in say, 5 to 10 years?

A

I do not believe that services like Knovel will in any way replace publishers. We provide a high value distribution mechanism and channel. In fact, many of our publishing partners look to us to supplement and substitute for the declines in revenue that are inherent in today’s reference book business. In fast-paced global businesses it is nearly impossible to use books efficiently, but professionals need access to the data to do their work. More importantly, services like Knovel are not, soely, about providing a virtual library. Instead, Knovel is a service that makes our users work flow faster - therefore enhancing productivity - and, as you can see from the example above, corporations are prepared to value and pay for the service. We share some of this value benefit with our publishing partners and many have reported back to us that they generate revenue from customers that they previously did not, and they generate more revenue because the corporations value the overall productivity benefit of the service much higher than just the content itself.


Q

What will be the key opportunities and challenges for your company for 2006/07?

A

Our greatest challenge is to continue to grow our understanding of the end user and how we can rapidly improve how they do their daily work. We are making huge investments in gaining this knowledge and applying it to our product/service offering.


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