People will sometimes ask me what my favorite product is within a laboratory informatics category and they most frequently ask what my favorite LIMS is.
I don’t have one. Seriously! Sometimes people don’t believe me, but it’s the truth. Other times, people assume that the LabWare LIMS is my favorite LIMS because I’m such an expert on it and spend so much time with it. That is not the case, despite how often I mention its name.
How My Business Works (And This is True of Others, Too)
On one side of my business, I provide consulting that is less dependent and sometimes entirely independent of specific products, such as requirement gathering or on working with customers on their product selection.
The other side of my business is that of product implementation. These activities are entirely product-dependent and customers seldom get their implementation done by a company that has never worked with the product in question. Those people in the industry who work on specific products usually do so because they get the opportunity to work on them, rather than selecting which ones they want to work on. Most of us work based on the opportunities we get within various markets. Additionally, when you provide product implementations, in order to program/customize/configure/enhance them, you must be extremely knowledgeable of fine details of the product. Thus, an implementation expert does spend a LOT of time with the product and, hence, spends lots of time talking about that product.
The Rock and the Hard Place
And so, as a business, I do like to talk about the products I implement, such as the LabWare LIMS, for example, as I like to promote the expertise I can provide with these systems. Also, as I spend so much time with these systems, I would have much less to talk about if I never spoke their name, at all. At the same time, the software vendors are my competitors. While I talk about my expertise with their products, by even mentioning their names, I’m helping to promote them. In a way, I’m actually helping promote my own competition but, in the case of a software product, it’s hard to avoid.
To Those Who Think It All Means Something More Than it Does
Thus, these particular software products that I work with and talk about are merely the ones that my company provides services for. My remarks tend to show my expertise in these systems and should not be taken as an endorsement. When I work with customers to select software products, some might or might not be surprised to find that I don’t necessarily suggest any particular brand as the “right” choice to a customer; however, that is what giving an independent assessment is all about – about keeping an arms length from the products and being able to reserve judgment based on the relative merits of each choice.
In the context of magazine articles, I stay away from writing product articles, but for the one product article I did write for Lab Manager Magazine which I wrote as an informational piece about a category of products, not as a recommendation of those products. Here in my own company blog, of course, it entirely makes sense for me to talk about products I specifically provide services for, and that is what I will probably continue to do.