Last month we celebrated our 5th year in operation. It is the perfect time to look back at the journey and to reflect on what we have achieved so far and the lessons learnt. It has been an exciting yet challenging journey and we have been fortunate to have the support of amazing clients, great partners and a fantastic team along the way.
Why did we start?
The whole idea was to build a suite of value added services that would serve the library community in the region.
We set out to be the best in all our activities, making sure we provide an excellent service in whatever we do. We soon realized that some of the work we did had a global impact so we started building technology and platforms around these services and reached out beyond our region.
We have a social mission to impact societies. That mission drives whatever we do, whether it is a doctor saving lives thanks to the information she has read through one of our databases, ground breaking research being created with the support of faster access to articles a university has subscribed to, or even the knowledge gained through participating in one of our workshops. We also contribute a fixed part of our profit every year to fund such activities. An example of this is our drive to fund at least four schools by 2020 in partnership with Dubai Cares.
What has changed since we started?
The whole research landscape is changing with publishers moving into the space of providing individual services to researchers. There is a further need for skill based learning and many publishers and providers are moving into that area too. The open access movement is also gaining more momentum with countries setting policies to support the initiative and hence the need for new models managing APC’s. Furthermore, governments and countries in the region are realizing the importance of building knowledge and learning based economies and we are seeing the raise of national access initiatives such as the Egyptian Knowledge Bank (EKB).
We started by providing content from world renowned publishers to the region and we continue to do so. In light of the changes above, we built platforms to provide seamless and easier access to these contents. At the same time, we started providing capacity building workshops to help develop the skills of knowledge workers in the region. We have also set up a suite of publishing services to help support regional publishing activities by publishing conference proceedings and now journals. We also support universities in their quest to become world class institutions. Through these activities, we are now serving over 70 clients from around the globe backed by a team of more than 20 professionals with an office culture and environment that is enjoyable and encourages creativity.
Where in 5 years?
The whole industry will be changed and challenged by the use of new technologies such as block chain, artificial intelligence and machine learning. These technologies can not only transform the way researchers access content and use services, but also how to track and reward their contribution in the research process. I also believe that open access to content will shift the focus away from payment gateways, more towards value added services delivered. We will therefore continue to streamline our products and services helped by the use of new technologies that would improve this process so that we serve the research community in a more effective and direct way. There is a lot to be done, but yet very promising.
I think the best memory goes back to our first week in office. It was in the heat of the Dubai summer and we had to wait a week for electricity due to some issues our landlord had at the time. We had no air conditioning or lights and had to design our office and set up the furniture in those conditions. The moment we turned on the light seemed like our biggest achievement at the time! There have been many milestones achieved so far and many are truly memorable, but we still have a lot to do and we are looking forward to the next five years with great energy. We are just getting started!
Always stay positive, never give up and be persistent. Always respect your providers and customers and whatever you do, have a culture of caring and support. Our biggest achievements so far have come directly from the results of these values. Above all, it is great to have a team that also believes in the same values because none of the above can be achieved without that.
To the next five years!
By Kamran R. Kardan, CEO – Knowledge E