Organizations today are under a huge amount of pressure to improve efficiency and reduce costs. This means that business practices and how organizations want to capture and view their data are changing. In some cases, organizations are being asked to use research partners/collaborators for 80% of their work to meet their business needs. This is having a significant impact on how they conduct their work and in particular on how data is shared with research partners and collaborators.
Securely and efficiently sharing data
During our recent Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting we pinpointed the main challenges faced by organizations when working with research partners relating to capturing data in a reliable and secure manner. In the majority of cases, organizations do not want to provide external agencies access to their ‘internal’ infrastructure so having a collaboration environment in a neutral zone, which the various parties can access, is needed. This common environment is also important to help standardize the methods of data capture across the various organizations so that the quality and the meaning of the data can be easily understood in an efficient manner. To help facilitate this efficient data sharing, we’re building functionality into our products such as ActivityBase, E-WorkBook and E-WorkBook Connect and this was shown and discussed during the meeting.
Upgrading software and change management
The meeting conversations then turned to the challenges of upgrading software. One of the challenges discussed was that organizations are outsourcing the provision of their IT infrastructure. Gone are the days when you walked across the corridor to speak to the Database Administrator and got what you needed. Instead of speaking to individuals based locally, many now interact with administrators who may be in different offices or time zones, which leads to increased complexity when performing in-house upgrades.
In addition, organizations that are generally relying more and more on software to help perform their data capture and analysis want to reduce the downtime during the upgrade process. In global organizations, finding the right time to upgrade can be challenging and sometimes is dictated by changes in their IT infrastructure. This means that the any upgrade process needs to be easy to perform with minimum downtime. In addition, if new technology is added to the application, it must be easy for customers to take advantage of this new technology without affecting the legacy operation of the system and minimizing the change impact on the business.
During the meeting, we discussed E-WorkBook 10 and its inclusion of both desktop and web clients, which can contribute to and retrieve data from the same database. This enables customers to upgrade and enjoy the same desktop functionality that they have been using in previous versions. This minimizes the impact of change and reduces application downtime. Customers then have the opportunity to decide when and how they migrate their users to the web to achieve maximum business value. To help support this process, and as discussed during the SIG meeting, we have tools and processes, such as change impact assessments, to support customers upgrading to the latest IDBS products with the aim of minimizing the impact on their business while taking advantage of new features and functionality.
In summary, the Munich SIG meeting was a great opportunity to work hand in hand with our customers to shape the future of our products.