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Soutron Global: New Competition in Special Library Automation

Smart Libraries Newsletter [April 2012]


Industry veteran Tony Saadat has launched a new company Soutron Global that will specialize in providing library automation solutions for special libraries in the United States and Canada. This new company was founded in partnership with Soutron Limited, a UK-based company that has been involved in various aspects of special library automation since 1985. The companies will evolve toward a unified organization with its global headquarters in Encinitas, California.

Soutron Global was established under the sole ownership of its founder Tony Saadat without external financing. Soutron Limited likewise is wholly owned by its founder Graham Beastall. Saadat reports that without external investors the company will remain unfettered to shape its products and strategies to best respond to its customer libraries. Soutron Limited and Soutron Global, though strategically allied remain separate companies. Saadat indicated that closer organizational structure may evolve in the future. Product development will continue primarily through Soutron Limited in the UK, under the leadership of Graham Partridge, Research and Development Director.

Soutron Global will market the library management solutions developed by Soutron Limited to special libraries in North America. The company's primary competitors include SydneyPLUS and EOS International, which currently stand as the market leaders for the special library sector. Saadat has served in executive positions in both of these companies. Soutron Limited has served as a distributor for Inmagic, now a wholly owned subsidiary of SydneyPLUS.

Flagship product: the Soutron Library System

The Soutron Library System has been developed on the Microsoft.Net platform and Microsoft SQL Server. Featuring multi-lingual support, it has been designed to accommodate both large and small special libraries and information centers. In 2009, it was sold as SoutronSOLO and SoutronGLOBAL to reflect different needs. The current Soutron Library System can be configured to accommodate the full range of special libraries.

The Soutron Library System is a full featured integrated library system designed especially for special libraries. It includes all of the traditional library management features, including acquisitions, circulation, serials/electronic serials, cataloging, search, online catalog, reviews and ratings, security classification, reporting. The company has developed the SoutronTHESAURUS that for the consistent management of terminology and controlled vocabularies. This product can be used with the Soutron Library System or as a standalone application. Although Soutron Limited was a distributor for Inmagic, in recent years it has focused on developing its own line of automation products entirely independent of Inmagic's technologies. Older products created by Soutron based on Inmagic's DB/ TextWorks will be phased out as the company's customer sites migrate to Soutron Library System.

Soutron Limited Background

Soutron Limited was founded by Graham Beastall. Following a variety of positions with other computing firms, Beastall joined Sydney Development Company in 1985 to launch that company's library management system to the UK special library market. Sydney Development Company fell into hard times and eventually landed in bankruptcy. That company's products were acquired by Ron Aspe and have evolved into the current offerings of SydneyPLUS.

In January 1989, Beastall established his own company, Soutron Limited, initially to support the Sydney products, with a shift after a couple of years to Inmagic, and in recent years to develop and market products based entirely on its own technologies. Through this cycle of products, the company has maintained a constant focus on special libraries. In 1991 Soutron became established as the exclusive distributor of Inmagic's library automation products in the UK and Ireland. As the largest volume distributor of Inmagic's products, Soutron not only provided sales and support, but also developed customized products for the UK special library market. The 2020 automation system, for example, was an automation solution for small special libraries Soutron developed based on Inmagic DB/TextWorks. In the 1990s Soutron also marketed products of other companies to this market, including the C2 ILS from Contec Data Systems.

In 2001 Soutron merged with Esprit, another UK company specializing in library automation. The partnership did not last long, dissolving in 2003, as Esprit was acquired by Dokimas Group Limited, which included DS as a wholly owned subsidiary. Esprit Founder and Managing Director Jim Burton became managing director of DS as it was acquired by Axiell Group. Since 2009, Soutron has focused its development resources on the development of SoutronSOLO and Soutron GLOBAL, based on the Microsoft.Net platform, now offered as Soutron Library System. In 2009 Soutron Limited stopped marketing Inmagic's Genie product, but continued sales and support of the DB/Text products.

Background of Tony Saadat

Tony Saadat has been involved in the special library automation sector for over 25 years, with a career beginning with Sydney Development Corporation, followed by executive positions with SydneyPLUS and EOS International. Now business partners, Tony Saadat and Graham Beastall were both involved with Sydney Development Corporation, a precursor of SydneyPLUS. Following the bankruptcy of SDC, Saadat joined SydneyPLUS International in 1989 as director of client services, and advanced to director of sales and to vice resident of sales and marketing, and later was promoted to executive vice president. Saadat left SydneyPLUS and joined EOS International as chief operating officer in 2001. In 2002 Saadat advanced to chief executive officer as incumbent CEO and company owner Scot Cheatham continued as Chairman of the Board.

In the transition of EOS International in June 2001 from ownership by Dawson Holdings PLC to primary ownership by founder Scot Cheatham, Saadat also acquired partial equity in the company. Saadat left EOS International in April 2009.

Kate Noerr joins as Board Advisor

Industry veteran Kate Noerr has lent her support to the new company as a board sdvisor. Noerr was previously involved in the library automation industry as president of IME which she founded in 1982 and which was acquired by EOS International in 1996. She was director of sales and marketing of Geac from 1997 through 1999, and was vice president of sales and marketing for Ameritech Library Systems. Noerr is currently chairman, co-founder, and past CEO of MuseGlobal, a technology company specializing in content integration and aggregation technologies.

Maria Phipps Joins Soutron Global

Soutron has also announced that Maria Phipps has also joined the company. Phipps, founder of Ontario, Canada-based Phipps & Associates has previously been involved as a distributor of Inmagic products in Canada. Phipps coms to Soutron Global with an extensive network client contacts that she has developed since founding her consulting firm 28 years ago.

Competitive Perspective

Over the last few years there have been several changes that have reshaped the landscape among the companies that provide automation products to special libraries.

One of the most noticeable changes involves the consolidation of several companies under SydneyPLUS. It acquired LawPort in 2008, Cuadra Associates in 2008, Questor Systems in 2010, and the DB/Text and Genie products from Inmagic in 2011. In early 2012, SydneyPLUS also acquired the Presto product line from Inmagic. As a result of these mergers, SydneyPLUS has a wide arsenal of products targeting different aspects of the special library technology market.

EOS International has relied on organic growth of its customer base and not been active in mergers and acquisitions since the mid 1990's. EOS deploys an increasing portion of its installations as hosted services. It has recently launched a version of its EOS.Web for academic libraries, and has reported some traction with small academic libraries.

As Soutron Global enters the US and Canadian special library market, it faces significant competition from well-established companies with strong brands with mature and well-established products. Most of the libraries in this sector will have automation solutions already in place, so Soutron Global will have to build its customer base through convincing libraries to migrate away from competing products. While Soutron Global may be a new player in this arena, its founder Tony Saadat is well-known through his past leadership positions in both key competitors. The success of Soutron Global in this market will depend on the relative strength of the products and on the ability for the company to draw new customers away from existing relationships with competing organizations. The recent upheavals in the special library automation sector may have created enough uncertainty to present opportunities for a new player.

View Citation
Publication Year:2012
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Smart Libraries Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 32 Number 04
Issue:April 2012
Publisher:ALA TechSource
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Company: Soutron Global
Record Number:16857
Last Update:2022-06-30 10:00:57
Date Created:2012-05-25 09:08:19