Thursday, October 21, 2010

I, EnvisionWare: An Introduction

Reporting to you from the Arizona office. Beautiful sunset not included with software purchase.
"By their fruits shall ye know them." So the saying goes. And EnvisionWare®, of course, is known by its products. It's hard to go into a public library these days without seeing something bearing the EnvisionWare logo--be it our PC management software (PC Reservation®), printing (LPT:One™), RFID solutions, or any number of self-service tools that have revolutionized the library industry. But who are the architects? What unseen hands give corporeal shape to these phantasms?

I recall having a revelation a few years ago at one of the annual EnvisionWare summits. Sitting there with my colleagues, listening to a guest lecturer, it hit me that the tangible assets of EnvisionWare were the brains of the people gathered in that room. Of course, this could be said about virtually any business, but the highly abstract nature of software development sets it apart from, say, an automotive company--which can point to rows and rows of cars coming off the assembly line and say "This is who we are."

At EnvisionWare, as with the automobile company, the product begins as a dream. But unlike the automobile company, our product essentially remains a dream (i.e. a concept rather than something physical) until the first customer loads it onto a computer. This is a generalization, of course. We do sell physical products such as the Coin and Bill Acceptor (CBA™), Case Controller, and gates. But by and large EnvisionWare really is the collective mind of its employees. I'm not able to open my door, point out into the back yard at a fluffy, six legged animal grazing in the garden and say, "Look, it's the fabled LPT:One! Want one of these cuddly little guys for yourself?" No, LPT:One is no bigger than the installer file the customer downloads from the EnvisionWare website. It is to a large extent up to the customer to determine the physical shape EnvisionWare takes in their library.

You could put us on a plane with a couple of laptops and send us to Ohio, and that's where EnvisionWare would be from that moment on. If GM were to move from Detroit to Santa Barbara, I'm guessing it would be a bit more of an undertaking. So--I really am EnvisionWare. We really are EnvisionWare. And the products are our dreams made real.

It is my intention over the next few weeks to highlight different departments at our company, giving you--the reader--a better idea of who we are and what we do. And perhaps I have an ulterior motive: Not too long after I started working for the company, I tried to explain to a friend what it was I did for a living. In the middle of my confused ramble, my buddy interrupted by saying, "Obviously you work for the C.I.A., but they really could've given you a cover story that made more sense!"

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