Bookseller Boosts System Performance, Gains Support for Web Technologies and Analysis of Unstructured Text
InterSystems Corporation announced that Koorong Books has migrated its enterprise computer system to run on the InterSystems CACHÉ® high-performance object database, enhancing its legacy Pick-based system and improving its performance and integration.
Koorong Books is an Australia-based religious bookseller with national brick-and-mortar and online operations and a UK-based publishing and bookselling arm.
With over 20 physical stores and an online presence offering books, eBooks, audio, music, DVDs and gifts, Koorong Books needed a modern and efficient information platform with the flexibility and agility to compete with global online booksellers. In addition to seeking increased performance and better support for Internet technologies, the bookseller also wanted to preserve the business logic built up over 30 years in its enterprise system, which was based on Pick technology.
Koorong Books considered purchasing a packaged enterprise system, but found that nothing could match the existing system's functionality without extensive modification. This meant facing a lengthy and costly customization exercise with an uncertain outcome. Worse, Koorong would lose control over its enterprise system, and the business would become dependent on external suppliers.
InterSystems CACHÉ offered the bookseller a broad set of extensions for MultiValue environments like Pick, which meant that Koorong Books could migrate its enterprise application and take advantage of CACHÉ's complete range of object and SQL development technologies.
"As systems developed with Pick technology get older, they get harder to maintain and interface with new technologies to stay competitive," said Paul Bootes, Managing Director for Koorong Books. "When someone says 'can you fix this?', our developers like to have a solution in 10 minutes. That is the culture that we have always had, and CACHÉ just makes it so much easier."
After a six-month migration, Koorong Books' new CACHÉ-based enterprise system - also aided by new hardware - immediately boosted performance, particularly for online customers. Product lookups which previously required more than 30 seconds on a busy day are now completed in less than a quarter of a second regardless of load. Website stability and uptime has also improved greatly; outages are now virtually a thing of the past thanks to the stability of CACHÉ's Java interface.
While increased performance and stability were key objectives, CACHÉ's modern interfacing support offers Koorong Books bigger benefits: the flexibility and agility to compete. "One small example is that the previous system could only output daily reports in XML format instead of Excel," said David Perry, Manager, IT & Digital Content for Koorong Books. "That was extremely frustrating because you couldn't open them on mobile devices. As soon as we migrated to CACHÉ, we fixed it."
"With CACHÉ's built-in functionality, the new system has also allowed us to develop our own Web service to seamlessly integrate with our new bank's merchant facilities," said David Guest, System Administrator for Koorong Books. "This integration means that we will be able to change banks again without having to change our core systems code."
The most profound benefits, however, may come from InterSystems iKnow technology, which makes it possible to analyze unstructured data such as free text. "The major attraction of iKnow is that it is tied directly into the database, so we don't have to maintain a separate data warehouse," said Perry.
Koorong Books is using iKnow technology to analyze the unstructured text blurbs for over 200,000 books and DVDs. After identifying common words and concepts, the bookseller can then correlate them against sales figures, for example. It also expects to use iKnow to improve its book recommendation system and to identify and remove duplicate book listings to improve its Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and reduce paid listing costs.