SCW (Scientific Computing World) published my latest article for them in their most recent “print” edition (I keep putting “print” in quotes since we’re all reading it on-line, but this is from their magazine edition, not the newsletters). It addresses the challenges software vendors face as the years pass:

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

3 Thoughts to “The Challenge of Change for Informatics Software – “Print” Edition”

  1. That was another good article, short and to the point. My comment is that everyone hates change that is imposed on them. I feel that customers must be able to upgrade their applications on their time table and per their needs. The vendors should simply support that philosophy rather than forcing upgrades.

    It is very possible to have your cake and eat it to from the customer point of view if the system is architected as a platform rather than a silo’d app. As a platform you can extend the app with customization in the form of plugins. Each plugin, like the core product has its own version path. Customers can pick and choose COTS as well as custom plugins that meet their needs and then upgrade each independently to a point.

    WordPress is an excellent example of how to build a core app with plugins. If you take this approach the user is in nearly complete control and can create their own custom plugins. With this approach the app need never get dated. The key is to have a very, very large user base in order to create a market for plugins and a large developer base to deliver those needed plugins.

    At my company, our version 7 product has moved to this model and we have been able to create a very vertical specific app using our main enterprise product as the core. We configured an app specific to Physician Office Laboratories and provide it as a free LIS to that marketplace with optional plugins and integrations (our monetization model).

    There are not many LIMS products that are designed this way. Some claim to be a platform but then provide no API or tools to create 3rd party plugins and they force upgrades on the user. I think the word platform simply becomes a marketing term at that point with no real value.

    1. While customers sometimes feel they get “stuck” with what our industry gives them, they have more power than they realize. By chance, I was just speaking with another long-time industry person in the past few days and we happened to start talking about a product that a lot of people now use and take a bit for granted but, when it was initially released, wasn’t really much of a product. It had just one key element that no-one else seemed to have. It was something that customers desperately wanted. That is how a product with little else to recommend it got started and has now had quite a lot of time to become feature-rich.

      Or, as another example, few software vendors used to allow their project to be managed by real project managers as actual projects. Everyone insisted that their product didn’t need that. Over the years, customers pushed for these implementations to follow better project plans and, while we might still see a LOT of poor planning in our industry’s projects, there’s been much improvement.

      As yet another example, while some software vendors used to push their products as “validated” to regulated customers or to insist that they knew how to validate their own implementations, customers came to be the true experts in validation and now just let software product sales people blow their hot air and, in the end, do what they need to do to to get their system validated.

      I could give more examples but there are many areas where customers have finally gotten tired of the “same old, same old” and forced the industry in whatever direction they need.

  2. Agree. An empowered user actually better reflects the marketplace. It is our duty as vendors to support that empowerment and not stand in the way. I think open source really embodies that concept but unfortunately, in the LIMS marketplace there are not a lot of good choices. I think that will change.

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