Synaptica talks with Narendra Venkatramani, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing for Scope eKnowledge. Narendra, known as Venky, is based in Chennai, India. Scope provides Content Enhancement Services, Data Management Services, and Patent Research and Analytics for various clients across the globe. With over two decades experience in account management and business development, Venky currently leads the international sales and marketing teams for Scope. During 2016 Venky worked with Dave Clarke to develop a strategic partnership with Synaptica to deliver end-to-end customer solutions.
Tell us about you, your work experience, and interests.
NV: My background is originally in engineering. I have an international MBA and became an entrepreneur with a European import/export business based in India. In the early 2000s, a friend needed support with both sales and operations management. The company was a Knowledge Services provider, and this is when I began working within the information, publishing and media sector. I stayed with this company for about seven years, providing a good base and grounding in knowledge management.
About five years ago I joined Scope eKnowledge to lead on business development. This is where my main interest lies but I have always been involved and delivered responsibility for sales and operations. The aspect of trying to sell a customised type of product for the customer; does a solution exist, do we need to create something from scratch? This is what excites me the most.
Can you describe your role? What do you enjoy the most?
NV: I am part of the core Executive team. There are three of us who lead the company. My focus is sales and marketing where we have around 9 people in pre-sales team working on research, analysis and generating leads. Our sales team are based in the UK and Europe and the USA. I also have a team of people looking after the publishing side of the business.
Would you give us an overview of Scope eKnowledge?
NV: We enrich content and make it discoverable. The biggest and growing issue for publishers is ensuring their volume of content can be found, easily. Books, journals, publications regardless of the format – how do you make it easier to search. We enhance the content value, mine the data and disseminate the knowledge. We also work with customers’ data enabling better search including analysis through aggregation, cleansing, structuring, classification and management.
With these increased volumes, Scope provides knowledge services using taxonomies, abstracts; we create index keywords. We link documents together based on the relationships embedded within it – that’s how documents can be found.
Our customers include some of the major names in publishing and we focus on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics sectors (STEM). Originally Scope was a market research firm but now we focus on STEM publishers and this makes us unique. Most of our revenue and customer base is from the US the rest across the UK and Europe.
I have been working in sales for over 30 years. I have an operational role with Scope but it’s the sales and business development element that motivates me.
Why did Scope shift towards publishing and why the STEM sector?
NV: One of our first customers was a world’s largest chemical database provider in the US. We also worked with Reuters. Working with these two major players propelled us into the publishing sector. Both were database-led, requiring major abstract index work. For the chemical database provider, we provide deep indexing. This can include analysing the chemical structures, the lab procedures, plus protocols. We index all this information – typically for an article, you might have 8, 10, or 15 terms, but with Deep Indexing, you are often working with 500+ terms. We make sure the subject matter works with the content to obtain the right result. This means that we have a strong base in engineering and hard sciences, which includes chemistry, biology, and life sciences.
Is this a growth area as an industry? How is this type of publishing developing the impact of technology?
NV: Generally, publishing is a challenging environment especially for newspaper and scholarly publishing. We focus more on STEM segments who are doing relatively better with growth around 5%-6% per annum. This increase is primarily due to the demand for scientific content across the world. Asia is now as big as the US and Europe combined due to the sheer output from China, plus Korea, India and Japan. This is a relatively bright spark within the larger publishing industry.
What is the overall goal of Scope?
NV: The leadership team want to see Scope grow in the STEM sector but also develop our data services element. For example, we work with Zillow Real Estate collecting information and data. We clean it up, look at formatting and the content before returning it to them.
As our overall aim is business growth our partnership with Synaptica is an important part of our strategy. It doesn’t make sense for us to develop our own software tools when we can incorporate Synaptica products into our services. It’s a natural synergy. We currently work together in two areas:
- Taxonomy development. We have created an integrated solution called Taxonomy as a managed service. Companies can outsource portions of their taxonomy development.
- Content Enrichment. Together we can index and classify content for customers using taxonomies and by the creation of abstracts.
How did the collaboration between Synaptica and Scope begin?
NV: Once we decided to work with a software provider we developed our key criteria and thought carefully about the type of collaborative relationship we wanted. The next stage was to do our research. About the same time, we met with Dave Clarke. One of our key aims was to enhance taxonomy and thesaurus services to our customers. We had a basic in-house tool, but we lacked the validation rules and scalability that Synaptica KMS provides. We benchmarked and compared a few providers, instigated some conversations but it was clear Synaptica stood out from the pack. Sharing the same vision long-term with a focus on the customer, the user plus an emphasis on investing in research and development stood out for us.
It was interesting to discover we have an overlap with some customers which makes it easier to provide end-to-end solutions, building taxonomies, developing thesauri. I like that we can provide a seamless, flexible service.
How do you feel about the partnership and how it’s working?
NV: We are excited about the new products being developed for automated indexing. There are a lot of customers who don’t need the full extent of our services and it’s possible this type of automated solution could fit in well.
We are very comfortable with Dave and the Synaptica team. Dave initially spent a week in Chennai – there is a lot of respect for DC within our organization and across the sector. The interactions between our two teams have been valuable. Our team of 20 use KMS on a regular basis this means we are a client as well as a partner. In the future, we are looking to move on the Graphite platform which uses a graph database. Many of our customers are more interested in these types of tools. The more tools we produce the more we can augment some of our services on top of end-to-end solutions. Developing these types of services has a lot of potential for our customers.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for your sector in the future?
NV: Information management is going to continue to grow, with more and more of our customers producing content within the digital domain using different formats, eBooks and articles. The question for the industry is how you make it easier to be found and classify in addition to improving tagging. Taxonomy management, in some form, is key for this. Organizations who publish high volumes of content need to understand that taxonomy or a knowledge model powers your search combined with effective search, tagging and classification. We see this area is going to continue to grow continually. Discovery or content discovery is the phase we will be discussing to drive effective taxonomy and thesauri management in the future.
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