What if We Could KnowNow

In January 2017, Eric Robinson and I attended a senior executive meeting of FTI Consulting where the keynote speaker was Heidi Gardner, Distinguished Fellow at Harvard Law School  She described how her research on Smart Collaboration could be used by professional services companies to exponentially increase their revenues organically.

Professor Gardner shared that her research process took years to find these insights and then test her solution recommendations.  After the presentation, Eric and I realized that with the combination of our real time email and digital artifact eDiscovery capabilities with the FTI Ringtail product (now owned by Nuix) and access to our internal consultant time and billing databases, that we could execute Gardner’s research process in real time.

It took us a couple of weeks to get the full set of access credentials to the myriad of internal FTI data and document systems and then another couple of weeks to prototype a solution through a combination of Ringtail and ElasticSearch.  The prototype featured several visual analytics that demonstrated that we could both replicate Gardner’s research and provide online tutorials for FTI professionals to apply the tailored recommendations to their specific expertise domain.

We asserted to anyone that listened that we could Know Now what FTI Consulting’s actual revenues would be 90 to 120 days into the future.  We could go beyond predicting or forecasting future results but KNOW the results in the future.

As you might imagine, FTI’s senior executives scoffed at our assertions and our prototypes.

A couple of months later we met Cliff Dutton who was at one of the companies looking to buy the Ringtail Product line.  While Cliff was Director of eDiscovery at AIG, he participated in research with former colleagues from Brown University that answered in the affirmative the question about whether you could predict future financial results by looking at eDiscovery digital materials.

While FTI Consulting wasn’t interested in pursuing the development of our prototype, Eric and I kept thinking about the impact of knowing now.  We started asking ourselves a set of related questions:

  • What interventions could we make if we Knew Now our financial results 90 days into the future?
  • Who do I need to Know Now to collaborate with or co-create with to accomplish my business and professional goals?
  • What do I need to Know Now to do the work I have in front of me today?
  • What do I need to Know Now to prioritize the work for my business unit?
  • Who do I need to reach out to in order to create an audience for my content or software product?

As I pondered these questions, I realized that in my previous two major successful software product efforts (ALL-IN-1, Attenex Patterns), I started out with a focus on increasing the personal mastery of business professionals.  Yet, in each case we pivoted early to focus on the enterprise as our customer to generate revenue and never solved for the needs of the business professional.

With the many advances in the backend searching features of Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Slack, Salesforce, Box, Dropbox, and Evernote, we realized the hardest aspects of building a personal version of our KnowNow prototype were already done by the major vendors.  All we had to do was create a user interface in the popular web browsers to access a business professional’s cloud-based information. 

Drawing from our earlier research and the acceptance of cloud-based content by billions of Microsoft and Google users, we were ready to start Factor10x, Inc, to produce the KnowNow product.  I enticed my co-founder, Scott Morgan, to test out my ideas and then help me recruit the founding team.  Just one year later we are ready to introduce KnowNow to a wider audience.

We look forward to sharing our progress and our aspirations with you.  Come join our journey to the future of personal knowledge mastery.

Skip Walter is the CEO and co-founder of Factor10x, Inc.  Skip is known for his ability to create order out of disorder through his software products, writing and teaching.  Skip is the visionary and driving force behind KnowNow.

KnowNow connects people and ideas to co-create value.

Apply for early access to the KnowNow beta program.