Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The EnvisionWare Decade

It is a little-known fact that decades and centuries begin with the number one, not zero. Think about it: when you count to ten, do you start with zero? For that matter, does anyone ever ask you to count from zero to nine?

I know what you’re thinking: “Okay, Man In The Purple Shirt, are you saying that when I was partying to the ubiquitous Prince song ‘1999’ on December 31st, 1999, I was not in fact saying goodbye to the 20th Century?”

That’s exactly what I’m saying. The real event came the following year. Did you miss it? Sorry…I’m just the messenger. Perhaps, though, it is some small consolation to know that we now stand poised at the turn of a new decade. And I’d like to capitalize on this momentous occasion by reflecting on how the library industry has changed in the last 10 years, and how EnvisionWare® has had a hand in all that. Scraping the cobwebs from my brain, I recall that the libraries of 2001 loaned out scrolls rather than books, were populated by bespectacled old ladies in long black dresses, and were powered by complex generators that used a hybrid of steam, coal, and a hamster running around on a treadmill.

…Welllll, not really. But when we contemplate the seismic shifts that have occurred in technology since 2001, my parody really isn’t that far off. Consider that in 2001 the preferred medium for viewing films at home was still videocassette, and that the most common method of accessing the internet (at least for home users) was dial-up. The inevitable introduction of networked computers to the library environment posed many questions for staff: Should anyone visiting the library be able to use a PC and access the internet, or just cardholders? Should there be time limits on usage? And how would these be enforced? What about printing? What if someone printed a 500-page PDF? Would they be required to pay for that print job, even if it was a mistake?

EnvisionWare was already there with the answers. In 2001, our LPT:One™ printing solution had been available for nearly three years, and PC Reservation® was spreading across the land like kudzu. The company rapidly expanded, adding solutions for online fines payment, self-service circulation, copier payment control, and printing via deposit account. Service centers opened around the country. In 2006, EnvisionWare seized the cutting edge and dove headfirst into the RFID/AMH market, bringing the concept of OPEN STANDARD RFID to the United States, and not too long after that, we partnered in the creation of EnvisionWare Pty Ltd in Adelaide, Australia, effectively broadening our global reach. Back at home, we began the deployment of the largest RFID/AMH library project in North America. Those are just a few highlights. Not bad, not bad at all.

What can we expect in the next decade? Well, I’m not going to give away any company secrets, but it seems fitting that we have gone “back to the future”—updating our classic PC Reservation® product to meet the demands of the new era. We also have a new version of EnvisionWare® eCommerce Services™ on deck that conforms to the most current PCI standards and, as RFID continues to sweep the land, we continue to innovate in that field. The key to the company’s success is no secret. As per our website:   

“We make ‘software that works the way you want it to.’ Making incremental decisions and commitments with an eye on the longer term vision, the Company can turn on a dime and adapt to changing market conditions and new requirements from its customers. It is the Customer, not developers, that makes decisions about development.”

Suffice it to say, wherever libraries go, EnvisionWare goes. It’s an exciting ride.

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