While I’m sure there are quite a few unserved market segments regarding laboratory informatics conferences, these are just a few that come to mind.

The Inexperienced
As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, we don’t have a good place to send people who are just coming into laboratory informatics (LI) positions, whether they are new LI project managers, ELN administrators, or those working for the LI services and software vendors.

It’s pleasing to dream about an event where there would be a variety of short topics of issues and ideas that they’ll need to be aware. Add onto that some sharing of ideas and workshops where people could ask questions about the things they’re puzzled about, and it could be a useful event.

One problem is that these people don’t yet know about all the issues they’ll face to know they should look for something like this. Then, how do you get that information to them? That remains a problem.

Laboratory informatics is such a large topic that it has enough information to have its own event for these people. Sometimes, I hear of marginally-related conferences for junior people that include a little LI, but it’s sometimes so little that it’s not helpful. Other times, since it’s something of an afterthought, are full of misinformation or is just not very good.

Think of this: in our industry, we continue to complain about the fact that people don’t spend enough time thinking of integration when they put their initial systems in, that junior people don’t get good-enough direction on these systems, that people new to the industry are too easily misled and mis-sold to. Well, how will they know otherwise if we don’t tell them? At the least, we could get them started on the discussions revolving around the difference (if any) between LIMS, ELN, SDMS, etc… And, one way to “tell” them is to have an event that is specifically aimed at them. Unfortunately, there is no-one around to do this – no-one will a goal of improving the influx of knowledge to improve the downstream performance of those of us in the industry.

Discovery Informatics
I don’t happen to work in discovery informatics but I keep hearing “noise” from them that they don’t feel served by conferences. It sounds like there is still quite a bit of entirely custom programming being done in that area and some of the people tell me they would like a conference that is heavy on the technical end – something that focuses on suggesting good tools for the purpose and on programming techniques for using these tools.

If there’s an organization out there that serves the discovery market, I hope anyone who reads this and knows about such an organization will pass my comments along.

MS SharePoint
Those people who work with MS SharePoint to deliver applications to laboratories also seem to have special needs that aren’t being met by the other conferences. Some of them tell me they’d like a conference that is not necessarily dedicated entirely to MS SharePoint – that is somewhat more general and has other LI topics – but that also includes several conference sessions that specifically address MS SharePoint issues.

This is a tough one, because the conferences where some of the MS SharePoint people show up aren’t particularly technical and to have a technical group of sessions might not be a good fit. On the other hand, telling these people to just show up at the MS SharePoint events means that they’re meeting with groups of people who won’t be discussing laboratory-specific issues.

Then, who would create a conference dedicated more to serving their specific needs? While I seem to remember Microsoft pointing a special focus at certain laboratory needs, this might be a little to specific for them to focus on. It probably falls to someone within our industry to do it. If no-one steps up, then possibly a place to start is to create a LinkedIn group for this topic or to ask one of the larger MS SharePoint groups to create a subgroup for this. One topic of discussion could be whether an actual event could or should be created.

Gloria Metrick                     
GeoMetrick Enterprises

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