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Rent A Brain: What It Means To Offer Knowledge As A Service Through our KaaS offer, we are effectively wholesaling the time, capacity, and bandwidth of our global team of trade and investment experts for our clients to avail of for their own needs and projects.

By Joe Hepworth Edited by Aby Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

We are in the age of aaS- and I type that very carefully!

If you didn't offer aaS before, the chances are that you do now.

We've all become aaS lovers.

I am, of course, talking about "As A Service."

Mobility, software, infrastructure, governance, testing- the list of what's being currently offered as a service is growing by the day, and it is yet another area that's obviously been catalyzed by the unique events of 2021, with so many business models turned on their heads and new revenue and business streams being developed as a result.

Like most companies looking at this situation in early 2020, we did the same in the spring and analyzed both the market conditions that we operate in as well as our own strengths and capabilities to spot the aaS-sized gap that we might fill. This very quickly developed into full-blown product development for what we called Knowledge as a Service (KaaS), which we have since successfully rolled out and that continues to gain interest from existing clients and new prospects alike.

Through our KaaS offer, we are effectively wholesaling the time, capacity, and bandwidth of our global team of trade and investment experts for our clients to avail of for their own needs and projects. You could almost call it "rent a brain," as that's what we're effectively doing– rather than hiring your own researcher, analyst, or project manager, you can use one of ours.

Related: How Entrepreneurial Education Can Shape A Generation

From the demand side, we saw that our clients were implementing recruitment freezes, so offering them the ability to tap into flexible resources as and when they needed it has proved to be enormously positive. From a supply perspective, we saw that we had areas of softness in our medium-term staff project allocation, so we looked for new client commitments to ensure full utilization- and so, our KaaS offering was born.

Whilst the main uptake has been amongst our larger existing clients where we're already a trusted partner, we've been pleasantly surprised by the interest and uptake amongst the SME community. These smaller clients value the flexibility this confers in terms of availing of the service when they need it, having full access to our 100+ strong global team depending on their specific need or issue, and also the very significant cost advantage compared to hiring in-house.

Does this constitute a "pivot"? Much as I'd like to be on that 2020 bandwagon and say that it does, I don't think we have qualified for pivoting here. With KaaS, we've just found an innovative new way of packaging, offering, and monetizing something that we're already doing- we haven't started making hand-sanitizer, after all. But that's not to downplay that we're really proud with how we've developed KaaS and the client response, but it is more about product evolution, rather than revolution.

Our journey to the land of aaS certainly wouldn't have happened without the COVID-19 crisis of 2020, but now we're there, I can't see us going back either. KaaS has given us another string to our bow that complements our existing core offer, while also meeting current and future client needs. Sometimes you need external shocks to drive innovation, and this is certainly a silver lining for 2021.

Related: Hold On Tight: The Importance Of Client Retention In 2020 (And Beyond)

Joe Hepworth

Director of OCO Global, and founder of the British Centres for Business (BCB)

Joe Hepworth is the Director of OCO Global, and founder of the British Centres for Business (BCB)

With responsibilities across all market sectors and multiple regional countries, Joe oversees  BCB’s trade and export support projects across the region and is responsible for delivering the company’s investment attraction services in the region. He also leads the company’s economic development consulting team for the GCC.

As part of Joe’s work with OCO, he holds a number of other important client representational roles in the Middle East. He is Director for Missouri Department of Economic Development in the Middle East, Regional Director for IDA Ireland, Middle East Director for the Connected Places Catapult, and has managed the UK’s Department of International Trade regional delivery contract since 2013.


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