Challenging times, but business as normal during COVID-19 Lockdown

During these challenging and unprecedented times, I have been asked “how are you finding working from home?” and “how is this impacting on your business?” Questions that are being asked a lot around the globe right now. I simply say that we were fully prepared for such necessities as we virtualised our office a number of years ago.

We first implemented a Cloud CRM in 2005 and since 2011 all client, sales, technical and other business information is stored in the Soutron LMS. Yes, we use our own software’s flexible database to store our vital company data. We do like to practice what we preach! We store and manage databases for clients in the Cloud, all hosted in either our UK or EU data centres and so too is our own corporate memory.

Cloud Service + Support

I am pleased to say, that in these very testing times it is very much business as normal at Soutron. Serving our clients to the absolute best of our ability has always been and continues to be our number one goal and one that we do not take for granted. We are always looking at how we can build and improve, and it is thanks to working with our wonderful client base.

Our ‘Virtual Office’, has come into its own. All of our team are able to work at home in the same way that we work in the office. We interact with one another using Skype and have a weekly team video conference call to catch-up. There is of course no substitute for being in the office all together. That in itself has a form of osmosis, as we work in an open plan office and we all get to hear what is going on. So that part of the working life is the most challenging part but using Skype we all chat regularly, and we can use GoToMeeting or Zoom to screencast and this is enabling us, as it is for so many, to keep connected.

My Twitter (TravellingLibrarian) moniker, should perhaps be renamed @groundedlibrarian at this time! I miss very much getting out and meeting with clients and being in a library. On the plus side, 2019 saw me out of the office more than I was in, so I am currently using this period of “home time” to slowly work through a lot of tasks that had been given lower priority. I’m hoping that by the time we return to some kind of normality, I will have cleared my backlog and can be out and about again.

New Updates – Coming Soon!

One of Soutron’s main objectives is to make the information service more productive and provide useful, efficient tools to process data. We have identified a number of areas where we can add technologies to the application that are sourced from technology partners, to add new capabilities using the latest technologies.

Exploring new ideas with clients is always productive. Searching for the ultimate Cloud Library Service, stimulates innovation and this has led to a number of new optional “plug-ins” to Soutron.

Cloud-based applications and collaborative solutions are more in demand since the outbreak of Covid-19 and productivity aids that can add value and improve services are where we are looking to provide new capabilities.

New Document Review Functionality Plugin

In addition, we have been working on a completely new set of functionalities for “End User Submission” (EUS) used via the Search Portal. This has a new modern interface, making it easier and more appealing for end users to submit content into the database. When developing this we took this opportunity to reach beyond and create a completely new, optional module, that we are calling “Document Review”.

Document Review Software

It has a clean intuitive workflow that can be customised for submitting documents with the facility to nominate users to review prior to approval for publication, keeping changes and versions with a full audit trail. For example, a piece of research or an article that is to be published, can be checked and shared with peers to ensure it adheres to copyright or has been quality controlled and much more.

NEW! Innovative “Ask Soutron” AI Enquiry Plugin

AI and Cognitive Intelligence technologies have much to offer Libraries and we are delighted to bring to market a new optional plugin to enhance the Enquiry Service. This is a significant step forward in providing automated assistance to Knowledge Services, an enhanced Artificial Intelligent (AI) driven query tool to support online enquiries.

Ask Soutron AI Enquiry Service
This innovative enquiry response service incorporates natural language search with fast performance that executes against internal and external data sources, web sites and other resource sets nominated as source knowledge libraries.

Soutron is partnering with pioneering technology developers to bring this new tool to market, integrating into the Soutron Search Portal.

We anticipate that this optional plugin will be of benefit to the wider organisation and will further enhance the value of the Corporate Library service.

Welcoming New Clients in 2020

A very warm welcome to new clients this year from a wide range of organisations, law firms, specialist educational establishments, and government agencies. We are very excited to help them grow their services to support their clients.

We have also been working with several clients on digitisation projects taking advantage of our flexible database to get other departments within their organisations to use Soutron. Increasingly, Soutron is seen by the library as being of value to raise the library’ profile as force for dynamic change in the management of digital content. As a librarian, this really excites me. Librarians are trained in the managing of information and so who best within an organisation to drive forward initiatives that help ensure that information is correctly managed.

Many of you know that I spent 10 years working in a global law firm and when I started back in 1997 I was in awe at how central the library was to the firm and its physical and virtual status. From working with guys in the post room to the managing partners and this was achieved by ensuring that the library pushed itself in front, built personal relationships with the partners and ensured we had the right technical infrastructure in place to make it happen.

For example, (and this was before my time at the firm) the library was the first to implement a local area network of PCs in the entire firm in 1988! So I have been very fortunate in learning from the best and here I talk not just about my old firm but also my very good friend and fellow director Graham Beastall with whom I have now worked for 23 years. Graham was involved in introducing that first PC network.

Libraries and metadata are our passion and I have been fortunate to have learned even more, having worked at Soutron for 13 years and being able to meet and interact with so many creative fellow librarians.

Our shared vision made me decide to leave the firm I loved and build a new solution, one that we continue to be excited to develop. Supported as I am by my excellent team all of which I am pleased to call friends as well as colleagues. Craig Parsons is one who, like me, has been at Soutron for 13 years, working alongside me, keeping me on the straight and narrow, not afraid to challenge my ideas and present his own.

The last 13 years have by no means been plain sailing. Shortly after I joined Soutron we had the economic crash of 2008 and whilst many other organisations were cutting back, Soutron under the guidance of our excellent finance director, Susan Beastall, continued to invest in software development. We weathered that storm and came back stronger than ever. As we look out on the business landscape of today, a tsunami has hit our shores.

Soutron is much better prepared for the challenges we face today and equally determined to see this period of economic and social turmoil through.

Much of our strength comes from the strong relationships that we have with clients and listening to what is needed for the library and archive service in the future will help shape our development schedule for the years ahead.

We trust that you keep safe, stay well and when you need us, we are here in our virtual office to support and assist.

To follow Graham, the Travelling Librarian, on Twitter and find out where he is and what he is up to. Follow Graham on Twitter today.

Follow G A Partridge on Twitter

Graham Partridge
Graham Partridge
Research & Development Director

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