My main impression of this meeting is of SirsiDynix staff apologizing and apologizing for the unfortunate release of Horizon 8.0 beta when it was actually an alpha product. With the departure of Jack Blount during the year, a new vice president has put multiple procedures in place that will test products in a much more aggressive fashion, following rigorous software benchmark industry standards. The mantra we heard is that quality will be chosen over functionality. The functionality must work before it is added to the product. This also means that the general release of Horizon 8 has been delayed until January 2007. It was admitted that fewer than 6 libraries actually have Horizon 8 beta implemented. This was in direct contrast to all of the promotion we heard of Horizon 8 at last year’s conference.
There are also interesting transitions in the management group. Two promotions to the vice president ranks have come from the Sirsi side of the company – client care and product development. Patrick Sommers, CEO, stated that the aim of the company is to bring us value as a long-term technology partner. Some of the challenges to the company and its products include shifts from a text-oriented workforce to a visually-based workforce, quickly-developing content by 3rd parties, increased expectations of users, and web 2.0 which allows the user to be an information manager. SirsiDynix continues to serve the largest library customer base in the automation arena (7000 individual agencies with 20,000 outlets).
Besides the company keynote presentations, I focused on sessions about system architecture of Horizon 8.0, 8.0 PAC administration, WebReporter, system administration, LiveNetwork, and URSA. I also met with our company representatives to discuss issues related to Horizon 7.3.2.
CODI 2006 was primarily geared toward promoting familiarity and confidence in the new Horizon 8.0 product. There were also seminars on RFID, time management, wireless functions, reporting, debt collection, disaster preparedness, and other miscellaneous topics related to library technology management. There was also an Exhibitor’s Hall for vendors to show their wares. I believe there were approximately 30 vendors in attendance, with Sirsi/Dynix and Envisionware being the most prominent. The conference was held at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah and was attended by 789 people from around the world.
My focus was on four things: Horizon 8.0, RFID, reporting, and debt collection. Most of the seminars I attended addressed those topics specifically. Unfortunately, the RFID information was far too basic to be of any use. The debt collection piece was interesting as the Debt Collect module will come with the Horizon 8.0 package. This also holds true for the Webreporter piece. It will come included in the package, and is not optional. These modules will affect the pricing of the package depending upon the size of the application. With regards to Horizon 8.0 and changing over from 7.3.x, it will be an interesting process. There are many new features and advantages to the new system, but there are still implementation bugs to work out. There will also most likely be additional costs involved in the form of more servers to accommodate the programs and also necessary upgrades to all of the workstations using H8.0.
As an aside, Salt Lake City is a very clean, picturesque city set against the mountains. It was an interesting change of scenery from our plains and crops. Another highlight of the trip was (repeated) visits to the Salt Lake City Public Library, the Library of the Year for 2006. The building and grounds are beautiful and very impressive. The building is enclosed in glass and affords a view of the surrounding city and mountain range that is truly spectacular. There is a seating area and garden on top of the building that allows unobstructed views of the entire area. It was truly an amazing building.
The CODI conference in Salt Lake was decidedly different from last year's conference. The upper management of Sirsi/Dynix were very apologetic about the alpha release of Horizon 8.
After the opening session, I attended several interesting workshops on serials, cataloging, creating tutorials, and search indexing. On Friday, the upper management of Sirsi/Dynix held a Q & A session for everyone at the conference. Questions could be submitted before the conference and they attempted to answer them in a public forum. This did not leave much time for open mike questions but was interesting that they would expose themselves to the entire conference in that particular type of format. Overall, I thought it was a well run conference but lacked the "wow" feature from the year before. All of the speakers seemed to want to put Horizon 7 and the problems with 8 behind them and focus on the future of Horizon 8.
I thought it was well organized, I liked the choice of venue. It was a little light on technical information, and I thought they could have had more vendors. Overall, the sessions I attended were well presented, and several were very informative. I liked hearing from the people at Sirsi Dynix about thier plans for the future.
The city is beautiful, and SLCPL was an incredibly cool building, kudos to whoever thought of placing the coffee shop right at the building entrance!
I was a first-time attendee at CODI this year. This was a very practical conference. I met lots of people who share our struggles with the software. Many sessions were very technical, more for a systems person who actually can implement improvements, yet the knowledge is very useful for understanding the possibilities and limitations.
Many sessions focused on the future. The best things I heard or saw were: