On October 24th, we welcomed our customers to our annual IDBS User Group Meeting: i3.
This year, we chose a beautiful lakeside resort just outside of Austin, Texas, writes Christine Zubris, IDBS Customer Success Manager.
While Austin experienced the worst flooding in a century (the lake at the venue was 18 feet above normal levels), by the end of the event, the weather progressively improved giving us a great view of the stunning Lake Travis – and we were even graced with a bit of sunshine on the final day of the conference!
The atmosphere and mood at i3 was the complete opposite of the weather. Customers arrived ready to interact with other customers, get hands-on with new technology and immerse themselves in discussions about the future of scientific data management.
As the host, master of ceremonies, crowd-warmer and joke-teller (I’m terrible at telling jokes), I’d like to share a few reflections I had over our three and a half day customer event.
The IDBS i3 event is intended for all customers. From large pharmaceutical companies, with 1000s of users through to small biotechs with 10 users, and from international food and agricultural science companies through to chemical companies and personal care organizations.
While the science may vary between our customers, their business challenges and data management needs are similar. The over-arching R&D process is a cycle that begins with planning, progresses to making something, testing that something, and then followed by reporting and reviewing the results of that something – which will all feed into the next phase of planning. It doesn’t matter what that something is. Whether developing lipstick, cutting edge-gene editing technology, polymers and plastics or preventative flea and tick medicine for pets, our customers all play a significant part in the R&D process.
Rory Quinn, Principal Solutions Consultant, leading one of the “All Access Pass” workshops.
“Attending this conference provides insight into how other users are customizing the system for their needs, which may lead to innovation in your organization. Attendees can also expect to see new demonstration of product enhancements”
James Everett, Director, Bioanalytical Services, PRA Health Services
We kicked off our main program with an introduction from Christian Marcazzo, the new General Manager of IDBS. He shared why he decided to join IDBS and how Danaher will help shape the organization IDBS will become. Christian also shared the Danaher core value of “Customers Talk, We Listen.” After his talk, I watched as Christian sat in the front row, listen and take notes during every customer presentation and segment. His engagement during the event sent a clear message to our customers that we will practice what we preach – starting with the very top of our leadership team.
Customers learn from customers
We lean on our customers to make i3 a successful event, as we know whats matters most to them at events like this is hearing from each other. With that in mind, we packed in as many customer presentations as we could!
The customer presentations were a starting point for advanced conversations; when Adriana Areas shared her organization’s migration journey from the desktop to web client, she emphasized the need to not underestimate the importance of retraining sessions. While the fundamentals of the E-WorkBook web client are the same, the user interface has changed – and her user community has been using E-WorkBook for over 10 years.
This sentiment was echoed from customers attending her session; another customer mentioned they rolled out their web client slowly to their 1500+ user community. They identified web client early adopters to help spread the word and build interest with the rest of their users.
Side note: This is brilliant! This customer took advantage of IDBS’s product strategy to migrate our 13-year-old, feature rich ELN to a web interface, ensuring no customer was left behind. The E-WorkBook desktop and web clients are just user interfaces and the underlying ELN structure/database is the same.
Shawn Fernando from Morphotek, discussed their major challenge: how do you test ten times as many samples without adding additional headcount? He also reviewed the process in which they selected the E-WorkBook Platform as their Lab Execution System.
And although Julien Antier from Solvay could not make it to Austin from his office in France, he was still committed to sharing his experience and recorded a video interview session with IDBS’ J.T Kaminski. Julien also shared a beautifully-produced video of Solvay Scientists using E-WorkBook in the lab and sharing (in their own words) how beneficial they believe E-WorkBook is to the future of their R&D organization.
Chris Jones of Phillips 66 shared an internal evaluation used to understand the true cost of their on-premise ELN and explained how Phillips 66 evaluated and justified a move to E-WorkBook SaaS. Realizing many other customers have made, or are on, the journey to SaaS, Chris paused after each of his slides and asked for input and experience-sharing from the audience.
“There are no hidden agendas or off-the-table topics. The event does a great job of inspiring relationships and as each event concludes I leave feeling the community has grown stronger”
Chris Jones, IT Business Analyst, Phillips 66
Some customers attend i3 to listen, learn and gain insights. Others want to share their ideas and enjoy the open dialog between IDBS and E-WorkBook users. Most customers want to do both – and we are grateful that so many carved out the time to attend the i3 event.
It’s not just about our products and solutions
The i3 program not only focused on the latest IDBS technology and company updates, but also around everyday business challenges. Attendees left with lots of advice and suggestions on how to measure ROI for technology (not just E-WorkBook). They learned how to understand the real cause of a problems and how to determine appropriate solutions. We discussed how to not treat data like trash and offered practical advice on how to treat ‘dark data’ as an asset.
Our CRO-Biotech panel session peeled back the complexities of outsourced data: how do you receive result data, store raw data and manage final PDF reports? And where is the final resting place for results to ensure global reporting includes data from outsourced and in-house sources?
“What I liked most was the ability to meet and interact with other customers and exchange ideas and experiences with the IDBS products which also provided hints on how to make better use of the products. Very enjoyable experience!”
David Pilloise, Associate Director, Boehringer Ingelheim
This is NOT a sales event
From the feedback we collected thus far, no-one felt ‘sold to’. We had 22 IDBS associates present at i3 – and not a single person was an account manager. We brought the brain-trust of IDBS; our product managers, members of our development team, solutions consultants, professional services consultants and customer success managers.
We crafted sessions that were applicable for both IT and Informatics groups, Business Analysts, and also for people responsible for the science, be it running and executing research or planning and determining the direction of R&D.
Customers had the opportunity to take advantage of a half day consulting/hands-on boot camp prior to the start of i3. They received advanced exposure to the E-WorkBook catalog and data ontology principles, best practices for managing structured data and tips and tricks for developing app-like components in E-WorkBook to enhance the end user experience.
UK-based Mark Hedges, the Integrations product owner, delivered a talk about integration strategy, but he also met one-on-one with many customers discussing their individual plans. I’m already suggesting that next year we set up “Office hours with Mark” to ensure everyone gets a chance to meet with him!
“Understanding how other customers manage the change from desktop client to web client helps our organization to improve our digital transformation”
Dr Michael Braeu, Head of Data Solutions for Research and Development, BASF
Beer always makes the post-lunch workshop more exciting!
As attendees were fighting the potential lunchtime carb overload, we asked Jeff Tishler and Helen Rueda to take attendees through an end-to-end scientific workflow. The problem with demoing a complete scientific workflow is that they usually involve multiple people and groups, exchanges of data, samples and information and then wrapping everything up in a final report.
Jeff and Helen are always up for the challenge and spoke about a thrilling adventure of beer brewing; the process of creating and following a recipe, making the beer (comprised of ingredients and a process), sensory testing (tasting the beer) and then the final step of reporting. The beer workshop was the perfect way to demonstrate an end-to-end workflow using the E-WorkBook platform.
The future is here
The purpose of i3 is not just to reflect on the past, but also helps us, and our customers, think about the future.
While you may be focused on how to store and manage data for consumption today, we’re asking our customers to begin thinking about how they’ll want to utilize their data three, five or even ten years from now. Are you thinking about how to ensure your data strategy is ready for advances in the digital world?
During the Paul Denny-Gouldson/Brady Haggstrom session we openly reviewed, explained and discussed our initiative around the data landscape. We electronically polled the audience and asked our customers to rank initiatives and provide input into the direction of E-WorkBook and beyond. If you’re interested in joining any of our technology focus groups, please shoot us an email.
If you didn’t attend i3 this year, I’d highly recommend you make every attempt to attend in 2019. This premier event is intended for super users, admins, scientists, IT groups and any business decision makers. Anyone looking to evaluate new parts of the E-WorkBook platform, impact the IDBS roadmap, receive unofficial training or even looking for advice on change management would benefit from spending a few days with other IDBS customers.
This year was a great success. Not only were my fellow IDBS associates beaming, but many attendees reached out individually to share their gratitude, positive feedback and provide suggestions for 2019 (yes, we’ll schedule the roundtable for Day 2 instead of Day 3 😊).