Chapman steps up as Knoware's new CEO, co-founder retires

Chapman steps up as Knoware's new CEO, co-founder retires

SAS partner and specialist will be owned by co-founder Colin Harris

Cam Chapman (Knoware)

Cam Chapman (Knoware)

Credit: Supplied

After a year at SAS specialist Knoware as GM of client solutions, Cam Chapman is stepping up to become the company's new CEO effective 1 May.

Knoware, an information management and analytics consultancy based in Wellington, has been in business over 20 years since it was founded in 2003 by Colin Harris, currently technical director, and former managing director Clare Somerville.

Somerville is now retiring after a year of transition planning and will also be selling her share of the business to Harris.

"I'm excited to bring some fresh thinking," Chapman said. "It has been an organisation that has done a lot of good stuff."

Chapman had seen some of that first-hand in his previous role as education infrastructure services business systems manager at the Ministry of Education where he tapped Knoware to perform an assessment and develop a plan for one of the ministry's existing data warehouses.

Growth is now on the agenda, Chapman said, through a lot more involvement in project work in both the government and private sectors.

That will also be driven through expanded industry partnerships, in addition to existing relationships with Equinox IT and Precision Data.

The company is also talking with a couple of recruitment agencies with more organisations going to market looking for skilled data professionals.

Knoware, which has a headcount of around 20, has been heavily involved with the Ministry of Social Development's information analysis platform (IAP) data warehouse development.

The IAP is a critical part of the ministry's infrastructure forming both a knowledge base for policy research and operational support, and management reporting.

The company also works with insurer FMG, and is a strategic and support partner for SAS. Other clients include among others the Department of Internal Affairs, ACC, the Ministry of Health and Police.

"While it looks like we are predominantly government we do work in the private sector and more of our current conversations are with private sector businesses wanting to do more with their data," Chapman said.

Chapman said where people had struggled to sell the value of data in organisations, that was changing. Indeed, with the whole country riveted by Covid-19 statistics, the public was also beginning to realise the power of data and information.

Data would help organisations move past Covid-19 into the "new normal".

"We can help organisations make sense of what they have already got and make decisions for the future rather than to report on the past," he said.

Knoware's partnership with SAS was central, Chapman said.

SAS' new cloud-based Viya platform was winning consistently high ratings in Gartner's magic quadrant analysis because it answered key performance issues for users dealing with increasingly large datasets. It was also surrounded by a suite of supporting products to deliver integrations, manipulate data and produce visualisations.

It can also be deployed in user- and role-based forms from AWS or Azure.

Somerville told Reseller News it was time for a change, both for her and the company.

"It’s been quite a journey, creating the company in 1996 at a time when we thought knowledge and information would be the next big thing to come," she said.

"Sure enough -- The Knowledge Warehouse [Knoware for short] has stood the test of time. Almost 20 years on, through the 2008 recession and, no doubt, through the coronavirus also."

Building and managing a company was not easy, Somerville said.

"You have to love the challenge, have the backing of your nearest and dearest to keep you strong, great people to work with, and reliable mentors and guidance in the form of a good board. 

"I’ve been lucky enough to have all those."

Knoware would move forward with new leadership and strong governance and would undoubtedly meet the challenges of these uncertain times, she said.

"For myself, I love new beginnings. I expect to have a good mix of work and play with perhaps a little more time for the play – I could pick that saxophone up again!"

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