IDBS have just returned from a productive and enjoyable trip to the Smartlab Exchange conference in Munich. The event provided the usual eclectic mix of attendees, speakers and exhibitors all combined together resulting in a successful two days for all involved.
From an IDBS perspective meeting our customers, either existing or potential is by far and away the most important objective. This was categorically achieved with the IDBS stand being awash with meetings allowing us to speak with customers about their priorities as well as being able to provide an overview and update on where we are going as a business.
As always when speaking with different people from a variety of organisations it is interesting to see if there are any common threads. From our interactions it was clear that the topic of data in terms of capture, management, security and integration were important to most. Integration and collaboration probably came up most and interest was high in terms of how the E-WorkBook platform and the newly launched Connect module could drive forward these strategies.
The evolving laboratory informatics landscape definitely means that businesses are now looking for more than just the ability to store some of their laboratory data. Managing laboratory workflows in multiple stages of the research and development lifecycle as well as ensuring that process is followed and improved whilst also taking into consideration the growing compliance needs means that thinking in bigger pictures has never been more important. Being able to deliver end to end data and process management means that it is now possible to transform labs, groups, entire departments and potentially the whole research and development area.
More and more people were talking about the need to collaborate. This of course can have many different connotations and one such focus is actually the need to work more effectively within one’s own organisation. Too much time can be lost by having to pass information and requests through endless paper or email chains due to different data and process silos having been built up over time in separate working groups. Being able to work quickly and efficiently with an area of the business that feeds into or depends on your given area means that all of the activities that simply have to be done but do not necessarily add any real value can be assessed more objectively to see if they can be changed or removed. It is now recognised that bringing different functional areas of a research and development organization onto consolidated technology platforms can yield many improvements.
External collaboration i.e. the need to work with external organizations such as CROs and academic institutions is also gaining momentum. Many companies already do this but have not yet satisfactorily addressed this from an informatics standpoint. Following external access directly into a given data store or having to manually transcribe externally produced data reports seem to be the two most common methods but these are far from ideal. Being able to work collaboratively in a shared area and then pull data directly into the relevant corporate repository was seen as the way forward. Good thing we have E-WorkBook Connect ready and waiting for this!
The event provides an environment very conducive to open conversations where customers and vendors alike are able to exchange current and future needs and share experiences around successfully navigating these.
So why the “scallop” in the title I hear you all ask, well to be precise it was actually half a scallop. One of our party was somewhat aggrieved to find one and a half scallops in his starter at the conference venue restaurant. When asked if the chef was “having a joke”, the maître d’ somewhat reluctantly admitted that there were “some problems in the kitchen”. What ‘problems’ meant that only half a scallop was served will sadly forever remain a mystery.