While reflecting on this past Pittcon, we at CSols were somewhat dismayed to realize that many of us have been attending Pittcon for well over 30 years. For most, our attendance at Pittcon started while in graduate school when we were afforded an opportunity to present a technical paper on our “cutting edge” research. In fact, several of us got our first job out of grad school through the Pittcon employment bureau back before the internet and “Indeed” even existed.
The conference has gone through tremendous changes during this time period due to many factors. The biggest factor is the ability to gather and disseminate information efficiently and effectively through the internet, as opposed to attending a show physically to access and exchange information. This is true for both scientific information and for gaining insight and information on the latest and greatest instruments, scientific software, and equipment.
Let’s face it. The time of the massive conference/tradeshow is gone and it will not likely return. And even though we realize this intellectually, it is always jarring to go to Pittcon and see its diminished state.
This year at Pittcon, as has been the case for some time, there was only one technical session dedicated to laboratory informatics and of the 8 talks given, 6 of them were by CSols employees. While this was great for CSols, it was disappointing. There was a time when there would have been multiple laboratory informatics sessions and there would be presentations by users of lab informatics systems, lab informatics vendors, lab informatics consulting companies, and individual lab informatics consultants.
The topics covered would have included case studies and lessons learned in selecting and implementing LIMS, ELN, or LIMS/ELN. There would also have been thinly veiled sales pitches by the LIMS and ELN vendors showing off their latest flashy capability or technology making us all gasp. And the consultants would have been eagerly expounding on why, without them and their expertise, your LIMS of ELN project would be doomed to fail. There would have been questions, and debates, and even some arguments.
Alas, this was not case and while there was good attendance at the laboratory informatics session, it was just not like the old days.
As in years past, there was a section of the tradeshow that was set aside for Laboratory Informatics Vendors and Suppliers. Not surprisingly, the size of this section on the exhibit floor had shrunk again. Equipment and instrument vendors seemed to have been encroaching on the lab informatics turf and no one seemed to really care.
The vendor booths, for the most part, were the same setups as in previous years. There were a few exceptions where a vendor or two had splurged on a new booth and an updated theme. Even more telling, some LIMS vendors (including a tier 1 player) did not even have a booth. There wasn’t an ELN vendor to be found except for those that also provide a LIMS. Maybe the ELN vendors believe that Pittcon is just not their venue.
There were more couches and demo stages in the booths to facilitate information exchange but for some reason it all felt stale. It was almost as if the vendors were just going through the motions. Where was the excitement? The grand announcements? The new technologies and breakthroughs? Maybe they were there in the ever shrinking Lab Informatics section but we just missed them!
So what is to become of the Laboratory Informatics space at Pittcon? Will all the technical talks be dominated by one organization? Will others step up and start sharing their experiences and expertise? Will the vendors and suppliers jumpstart their marketing efforts at Pittcon? Will excitement and intrigue return or will we just continue to watch the Lab Informatics presence at Pittcon continue its downward spiral?
Did you go to Pittcon this year? What did you think of the conference/tradeshow? Will you be going next year?