Thirty-four years ago, when knkPublishing president Knut Nicholas Krause’s father was the editor-in-chief at one of Germany’s largest newspapers, he decided to take his IT experience and apply it to publishing. The result was knkPublishing, which today boasts the only Microsoft-certified publishing software in the world. With offices in France, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S., knk—which combines the strengths of a business consultancy with the solution expertise of a software company—plays a vital role in the publishing ecosystem, applying Microsoft’s cutting-edge technologies in a way that helps publishers navigate an ever-changing industry.

“We take the base technologies that Microsoft offers in various areas and adapt them to meet the specific needs of publishers,” says knk CEO Sebastian Mayeres, who notes that the company’s software is used by customers on four continents. “We are also able to integrate prebuild AI models from the Azure Cloud to predict demand or churn and to optimize the supply chain. Having a variety of apps that out of the box communicate with each other is a huge time-saver during the implementation process.”

What makes knk’s publishing platform stand out from its competitors is its centralized data model and various apps, which are connected but can also run as standalones. “The range of apps can cover the entire value chain of publishers and media companies,” Mayeres says, “from generating new customers through Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and marketing automation capabilities to the full product life cycle, including order-to-cash, procurement-to-pay, and royalties and licenses, as well as full-blown financial management and logistic and warehouse capabilities. The next add-ons to our platform will be an integrated CMS and an out-of-the-box web shop.”

More than 450 trade, educational, children’s, special interest, music, and magazine publishers use knk’s software and services. While Microsoft Windows and the company’s Office Suite, including Microsoft Teams, are probably the most used Microsoft software among publishing houses, Mayeres says many publishers are also keen on Business Intelligence (BI) and CRM solutions, such as Power BI and Microsoft Dynamics 365.

“Publishers, especially during the pandemic, understood that a reliable customer base is very important and therefore started to diversify from the standard revenue streams and develop their direct customer relationships,” Mayeres says. “To do this successfully, they need to understand what customers they are dealing with. To get these insights, they need to have strong customer engagement capabilities but also data analysis tools. knk is a Gold Certified Microsoft Partner and is actively helping publishers to leverage all kinds of Microsoft technologies.”

While the company’s CRM software helps publishers build customer relationships, knkPublishing also focuses on what Mayeres calls Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM) solutions. “It is not easy to determine who your customers are,” Mayeres says. “Sometimes they are the end customer, sometimes it’s the bookstore or chain, but also the author needs to be treated well to maintain the very important author relationship. This is why we are talking about stakeholders and not customers, because there are more stakeholders to manage than just your customers.”

knkPublishing also works to help publishers grow revenues by improving margins via lowering costs. Additionally, the company’s software is future-proofed, and it’s easy for publishers to add new business models into their workflow. “This adaptability is made possible by the database structure, and the nature of our software, compared to other legacy systems,” Mayeres says. “Also, we are well equipped when it comes to any type of digital revenue streams, like online platforms where you could offer content pieces, as well as any type of subscription model, including taking care of all the royalty calculations afterward.”

To say that the publishing business has undergone seismic shifts in the last 20 years is an understatement. But knkPublishing is preparing for the landscape to keep changing. “One of the things we like to refer to at knk is Charles Darwin’s quote that it’s not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change,” Mayeres says. “Especially in the technology sector, we see rapid changes all the time. One of the challenges we will face in the future is the skills shortage and ever-evolving business models. Publishers just moved into digital- and subscription-based offerings, and now the metaverse is just around the corner and it will not stop there. Publishers need to react to those changes very quickly.”

But one aspect of publishing will never change, Mayeres says. “The right content through the right medium for the right person at the right time will always win.”