SirsiDynix Executive Roadshow, Birmingham, UK

Here’s a slightly delayed write up for the 2 day Executive Roadshow event at the Crowne Palza, Birmingham.
Normally I’d try and blog live but sadly the Crowne Plaza regarded internet access in the hotel rooms (which I’d already paid for) as being something entirely different to wireless access in the rest of the hotel (for which I’d need to pay separately).

Monday (am) – Talis
Many thanks to Richard, Paul and Justin for a very entertaining meeting at Talis HQ this morning.  If Paul was still jetlagged from Computers In Libraries, it certainly didn’t show!  We recently purchased TalisList to manage Huddersfield’s reading lists, so I’m hopeful we’ll be able to open up other avenues of collaboration with the company.
The last time I visited the company was about 10 years ago, when they were still called BLCMP and their (rather cramped) offices were based at the University.  Now the company has spacious offices based in the Business Park, about a mile from the NEC.  It was also interesting to visit a company who has their developers in the UK – almost all of the vendor offices I’ve visited recently in the UK have their development teams in the US, so they just tend to house the support and sales staff.

Monday (pm) – SD Exec Conf
The afternoon session kicked off with an introduction by Thomas Gates, then an opening presentation by SirsiDynix CEO Pat Sommers.
At CODI 2005, Pat spoke about the importance of change within the library, and he reinforced that again.  Interestingly (for me at least), Pat’s presentation specifically brought in issues relating to Web 2.0 along with the idea of ILS/LMS vendors being akin to dinosaurs — complete with a Gary Larson cartoon showing a Stegosaurus addressing a dinosaur convention:

“The picture’s pretty bleak, ladies & gentlemen… The world’s climates are changing, the mammals are taking over, and we all have a brain the size of a walnut.”

It’s going to be interesting to see to what extent SirsiDynix will embrace Web/Library 2.0.  At the very least, they’re proactively talking about it (which is more than some vendor’s are doing).
Following on from Pat, Peter Gethin summarised the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) situation, with particular emphasis on the developments in South Africa.
During the session break, I had the pleasure of speaking to Laurence Lockton (University of Bath) about some of the Library 2.0 issues.  Part of the great thing about Library 2.0 is that the discussion isn’t tied to a vendor — a cool idea is a cool idea, regardless of your ILS/LMS, and ideas that can be hacked into one system can (in theory) be hacked into another.
Next up, Steve Nielsen ran through the future developments.  High on the agenda is making former Sirsi products available for Dynix/Horizon users and visa versa.  When we went out to tender a couple of years ago, I remember thinking that the Sirsi Director’s Station was impressive, and wishing that Dynix had a similar product… (you see folks, wishes can come true!)
After the presentations, I finally had the chance to speak to the one and only Stephen Abram.  I’ve got to be honest with you and say that I could listen to Stephen talk ’til the cows came home!
Monday (evening) – more curry
A group of us (Liz Barton, Ian Haydock, Peter Ketley and myself) headed out for a curry at the Shabar Balti.  Having lived for a number of years in Bradford (the Kashmir was practically my second home), I could happily eat curry every day!
Just to compare and contrast with the Titash, I ordered the same meal (prawn rogan josh with plain naan and a couple of chapatis, washed down with a pint of Kingfisher).  Both were great curries, but given the choice between the two, I’d plump for the Titash as it was slightly cheaper.
Tuesday (am) – Stephen Abram

…the next ten years will be freakin’ crazy change!
(Stephen Abram, SirsiDynix)

The highlight of the conference for me was Stephen Abram’s (SirsiDynix VP of Innovation) session.  I don’t think his presentation is online yet, but it looks like it was based on a previous one (PowerPoint) he gave at Norristown Public Library.
One of the interesting things he said was that members of the so-called Generation Y (also known as the “Millenials” and the “NextGens”), which is roughly people born between 1980-1995, process information in a different way to other generations and are also much more likely to use computers for social purposes (see this article for further info).  In particular:

  • they are better able to process information visually
  • they are better at multi-tasking
  • they are “format agnostic” – i.e. information is information, they don’t care where it comes from
  • they have high expectations and expect information to be easily available to them
  • they are more likely to work collaboratively and to use Instant Messaging for long periods

Part of the whole Web/Library 2.0 challenge is to try and meet these high expectations.
Some of the figures relating to blogging were boggling — for example, 250,000 new users sign up to every single day!