Does Substance Matter? – A 2017 Lab Informatics Review

Blog: Does Substance Matter? A Review of 20172017 has been characterized by daily chaos, uncertainty and loud voices shouting at one another from polarized positions.  What will 2018 bring?  Your guess is as good as ours on that, but that’s not the point of this blog…

In laboratory informatics, we ultimately must work within the constraints of the scientific method.  Therefore, substance and objective truth are still the essential components of any laboratory operation, independent of industry.  We can’t simply talk about the way we think it is.  We must measure it and produce quantifiable answers that can be independently verified.

So as we look back at 2017, what were the main substantive changes that have occurred in the laboratory informatics space and how will those impact 2018?

2017 Review of Laboratory Informatics

Things that stayed the same:

  • Implementation capability and expertise remain the key factors for getting the value out of your laboratory informatics investment or not
  • Success rates remained stable for LIMS, ELN, and CDS (chromatography data systems) implementation
  • Laboratory instruments continue to evolve, adding new features, complexity, and capability
  • No single vendor was able to dominate the laboratory informatics space due to the wide variety of needs and capabilities required
  • New software companies and tools were launched promising to make it simpler and easier to transform your laboratory and to make your data instantly available to the rest of the organization

New Trends:

  • Artificial intelligence replaces Big Data and ELN as the “next thing”
  • Everything must be “in the cloud” yet few know why
  • Cybersecurity and hacking become major concerns
  • Managed Services is the latest variant of IT outsourcing
  • Informatics solutions are evolving to support an integrated solution/platform

2018 Future of Laboratory Informatics

So, what do we envision for 2018 and beyond?

  • Continued evolution of tools, toolsets, and capabilities in the Laboratory Informatics space. Companies will continue to struggle to ascertain which are best for them to deploy and how to do it effectively.
  • Companies will continue to try and rein in the cost of IT spending. We anticipate most of the focus will be in the areas of ongoing operation.   Hence, the trends toward outsourcing, near-shoring and managed services will continue to expand.
  • Many software vendors and suppliers will promise business transformation but few customers will achieve it due to the change management activities necessary to do so.
  • Applications in the cloud will finally come to the mainstream laboratory environment (not just universities and small research outfits). The penetration will still be slower than predicted, mainly due to cybersecurity and reliability concerns.
  • Mergers and acquisitions will continue to be a big story in the laboratory informatics software space as larger players look to consolidate offerings and gain market share. It’s easier to buy than to develop from scratch.
  • Artificial intelligence tools will not make a significant impact this year due to the complexity needed for scientific purposes. A possible exception to this may be in early-stage research. (i.e. Drug discovery for example).

Webinar: Oh The Places You'll Go - The Future of Lab Informatics

In light of the above trends, we at CSols believe that laboratory informatics will continue to be a discipline used by many but understood in detail by few.  This is because of the vast breadth of tools, applications, industries and scientific methodologies which are utilized under this umbrella.

Therefore, we believe that there is no substitute for expertise (the substance).  Only those who invest enough to fully understand and apply the current and future lab informatics tools will gain the business benefit from them.

“Many people can talk a good game, few can actually do”.   We recommend that you dig in and do the hard work of implementation, regardless of the technology you choose to deploy.

What do you think are the hottest trends in 2018 for Laboratory Informatics?   Do you agree that “implementation is the key”?  If not, what is?

Let us know your thoughts and in the comments section below.

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