Niall McKinney is the Founder & CEO of The Knowledge Engineers, a leading digital training company. Niall has extensive marketing and media experience and has worked at companies including P&G, TimeWarner and Travelocity Europe. We recently spoke with Niall about his current company.
The Makegood: Niall, previously you worked in print media at IPC Media/Time Warner. What made you make the switch to digital?
NM: In 2006 when I moved to Travelocity as CMO, I got the sense that I was missing out on the very rapid changes that were happening on marketing. I wanted to move somewhere that gave the opportunity for a rapid digital learning curve. At Travelocity I was literally sitting next to Brent Hoberman, the founder of lastminute.com and one of Europe’s leading digital entrepreneurs.
I had been involved in the dotcom boom in 2000, and been burnt like most people. By 2006 I got the sense it was beginning to deliver on the promise that excited me in 99/2000 and wanted to be part of that.
The Makegood: You founded your current company, The Knowledge Engineers, about 5 years ago. Can you tell us what the market need was that you saw at the time?
NM: Once I had spent some time at Travelocity, it was clear that all marketing would become ultimately become digital marketing. And if traditional marketing people wanted to get digital, they had a lot to learn. I figured that they would welcome help on their digital journey. That insight is the founding principle of our company – to help people who want to integrate digital into their marketing DNA.
The Makegood: Recently you changed the company’s name to The Knowledge Engineers. Why the name change and what does the new name mean?
NM: If marketers want to have a digital DNA, they need to assimilate a lot of new information into their strategies and decision making. What we do is turn information into knowledge, so that marketers can develop the skills to become more successful. If you think about a lot of digital marketing – search, optimization, user experience – there is a right way and a wrong way to do these things. For many marketers that is new. By engineering the right digital knowledge for an organization and their people, we can help them become more successful more quickly.
The Makegood: What kind of companies are The Knowledge Engineers main clients and what kind of service do you typically offer them?
NM: We work with three types of clients: marketing and advertising agencies; media owners and client marketing organizations. We have worked with Omnicom and its agencies for 4 years around the world, and work with 7 of the top 10 global advertising agencies. We work extensively with media owners like Time Warner and Google, and with client organizations like BMW and Marks & Spencer.
Typically we create long-term strategies for organizations to get up to, and stay ahead of the digital learning curve. We typically run multi-year learning programs with targeted training sessions backed up by sophisticated online learning platforms.
At the moment we are doing a lot of work in the area of social business – helping organizations – and not just marketers – learn how to take best advantage of what social media has to offer them. We are also collaborating a lot with agencies to help them help their clients identify strategic digital opportunities, rather than being swayed by the latest digital shiny object.
The Makegood: Thanks, Niall.