Thursday, August 25, 2005

Reference as Productivity: Knovel Recreates the Value Proposition for Reference Content

The recently announced implementation of the Knovel Library service at Black & Veatch Corporation, a leading global engineering, consulting and construction company, is an interesting example of how reference content can move from expensive shelf-sitters to active components in building workflow productivity. In this instance the match is perfect: in engineering and construction, having the right applied science data as quickly as possible is essential for coming up with the right calculations to support client projects effectively. Much of that content lies buried in reference books and eBooks, but Knovel extracts that content and makes it searchable and usable in ways that answer complex questions quickly - hence the claimed $1.5 million first-year productivity savings. This is powerful marketing ju-jitsu, turning the argument from "Why should we spend all this money on expensive reference products" to "How can we not afford to invest in the most efficient reference products?" There's a limit to what a fairly circumscribed content set can do to back up these claims and good measurements are essential for proving this success. But in the instance of Knovel Library targeting applied science specialists who need to get the facts and figures just right in practical solutions it's a compelling argument to leave the dusty stuff on the bookshelf behind and to get important deadlines met by spending much less time on finding the right answers to reference questions.
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