Library Automation: SirsiDynix and Brainware
January 14, 2008
On January 9, 2008, Marshall Breeding, an industry watcher in the library automation space, posted a story called “Perceptions 2007: an International Survey of Library Automation.” I urge anyone interested in online information retrieval to pay particular attention to the data presented in Mr. Breeding’s article. One finding caught my attention. The products of SirsiDynix, Unicorn and Horizon, received low satisfaction scores from libraries responding to the survey. Unicorn, the company’s flagship ILS performed somewhat better than Horizon. 14% of libraries running Unicorn and about half of those with Horizon indicate interest in migrating to another system–not surprising considering SirsiDynix’s position not to develop that system into the future. Horizon libraries scored high interest in open source ILS alternatives. The comments provided by libraries running Horizon voiced an extremely high level of frustration with SirsiDynix as a company and its decision to discontinue Horizon. Many indicated distrust toward the company. The comments from libraries running Unicorn, the system which SirsiDynix selected as the basis for its flagship Symphony ILS, also ran strongly negativeâ€”some because of issues with the software some because of concerns with the company.
SirsiDynix recently announced that it will use an interesting search-and-retrieval system marketed by Brainware, a company located in Northern Virginia, not far from Dulles Airport.
In my forthcoming Beyond Search study, I am profiling the Brainware technology and paying particular attention to the firm’s approach to content processing. SirsiDynix conducted a thorough search for an access technology that would handle diverse content types and deliver fast throughput. The firm selected the Brainware technology to provide its customers with a more powerful information access tool.
Mr. Breeding’s report provides some evidence that SirsiDynix may want to address some customer satisfaction issues. Innovation or lack thereof, seems to be on the top of the list. SirsiDynix’s decision to partner with Brainware for search-and-retrival should go a long way in addressing their customer’s concerns in this important area. This decision is also a testament to the strength of the Brainware solution. Accordingly, Brainware warrants close consideration when intelligent content processing is required.
Most library automation vendors integrate technology in order to deliver a comprehensive solution. The vendors providing these technologies on an OEM or original equipment manufacturing basis are not able to influence in a significant way how their licensees deploy the licensed technology.
In my take on the data in Mr. Breeding’s article, the challenges SirsiDynix faces are not those of Brainware, a company enjoying 50 percent growth in 2007. In Beyond Search, I’m rating Brainware as a “Warrants a Close Look”. I respect the findings in the survey data reported by Mr. Breeding. But let me be clear: don’t mix up SirsiDynix’s business challenges with the Brainware technology. These are separate matters. SirsiDynix, like many library automation companies, face wide set of challenges, and extraordinary demands from library customers. Brainware provides advanced content processing solutions that should address some of those demands.
Stephen E. Arnold, January 15, 2009