October 25, 2014

EnvisionWare Debuts Reporting Tool with Visualization Potential

EnvisionWare, one of the largest providers of self-service products in the public library market, is preparing to ship this month a reporting tool that the company says will thread together and visualize data from its entire line of 22 products.

“We have lots of individual products and each of the products has their own individual reporting tool, but we looked at it and said we need to figure out a way to tie some of this together,” said Mike Monk, EnvisionWare’s CEO.

The new product, Enterprise Reporter, went into development four years ago and has been tested at the Hong Kong Public Library.

“What we realized is one of the things our company really excels at is an intuitive experience because we focus on self-service,” Monk said. “So, all of our interfaces for the public, all of our strategies for designing products, are focused on things that don’t need to be taught.”

Monk said he wanted to apply the same approach to Reporter, even though it is not a public facing product, because it would enable a wide swath of the library staff to easily create visualizations of library data pulled from multiple sources.

“One of the biggest barriers we identified is the latency involved in trying to get information because of the finite number of people in an organization that can deliver it,” Monk said.

Avoiding having to outsource data analysis or relying solely on the IT staff will allow the library to go beyond the classic sense of reporting and quickly create data mash-ups that provide new insights, Monk said.

“We need to go into visualization and let visualization cause analysis,” he said. “So, in effect a branch manager in a library or a head of a department or someone in the Friends group can say give me some framework of information. Let me discover and let me interact with that data. And as I’m interacting I’m no longer dependent on somebody else. I can find the stuff myself.”

The tool uses drag and drop functionality to create dashboards and reports as well as visualizations. A pop-up wizard suggest ways to present data, often based on data type, such as zip codes. Javascript will automatically embed any visualization in the library’s website.

In addition to comparing usage trends and measuring ROI for RFID, ecommerce, and self-service circulation services, the tool can enhance ILS reporting capabilities, Monk said.

“We have no intention, nor desire, nor ability to compete with ILS reporting. That’s not our goal because they dig deep and wide across the ILS functions and they provide the classic kind of data that libraries use and need and will always need,” Monk said.

“What we’re looking for are touch points where that data needs to be combined with something else that the ILS doesn’t have. It’s about mixing data.”

In addition to data from EnvisionWare’s products, the tool draws on the IMLS public library survey data from 2010. EnvisionWare is also hosting an open exchange where libraries can share their data or a visualization in order to create a larger shared pool of information. The availability of ebook platform data will depend on who’s willing to share data, Monk said.

A single library can buy a single SaaS server license for $125 a month which is limited to web access for the library’s data and a single user. Two or three more users can be added for an additional $90 a month.

For midsized and larger libraries the base server software license starts at $5,500. It can be installed on a library-owned Windows Server. Libraries can add additional named users in increments of five or 10 licenses at a rate of $1,000 per named user. The SaaS and server license platforms include native iPad and Android tablet apps.

To create reports and connect the broad range of supported data sources, libraries would purchase an Architect license, which is licensed per desktop, for a base starting at $2,295. Additional licenses are $1,995.

“Say you are a small library of ours and today you have lots of little reporting tools, we want to give them something better,” Monk said. “And, from a self-serving perspective, I would like to stop maintaining 22 individual reporting tools and give everybody something far, far better.”

Michael Kelley About Michael Kelley

Michael Kelley (mkelley@mediasourceinc.com) is the former Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal.

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