Laboratory Informatics Is Thriving! Innovations Are the Key Enabler

Despite the economy or because of it, the Laboratory, Scientific and Health Informatics industry continues to thrive.  I think one of the things that defines the Informatics industry is innovation.  When the economy is tight, organizations are looking for ways (read: Innovations) to become more efficient and competitive and the scientific disciplines are no exception.

Laboratory Informatics tools such as LIMS, LIS and ELN are bringing great efficiency gains to laboratories, Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems are changing health care (but I don’t see prices going down, so much for the usefulness of those innovations) and tools such as Enterprise Content Management System (ECMS) cut across all disciplines and industries with benefits to the bottom lines of many organizations.  Social Media is now expanding collaboration of both individuals and entire organizations so that knowledge sharing is becoming an everyday practice on a global scale and is contributing directly to the bottom line of those individuals and organizations.

In speaking with a number of my peers (other LIMS companies), I found that nearly every one of them are doing quite well in this economy.  The consistent answer as to why has been the fact that LIMS helps laboratories save money while meeting regulatory and business requirements and in every case they have also been lowering prices to meet customer needs and this has resulted in more sales.  So why are labs willing to spend money on LIMS during a tight economy?  The answer has to be that it enables those labs to innovate, stay competitive and reduce costs.

At LabLynx, Inc. innovation is the cornerstone of our company and its culture.  We were the first to introduce a 100% browser based LIMS in 1997 (our version 1) and in 1998 we rolled out our first hosted LIMS.  Almost 10 years later other older and large LIMS companies have followed our lead by introducing their web browser based LIMS by their 10th version.  Now in 2009, we introduced the public release of our SaaS webLIMS built on a Cloud Computing infrastructure.  This single innovation exploded the growth of our LIMS business in excess of 100% in 2009 while lowering software costs for all of our customers.

How do you grow the business by over 100% in a year while lowering the prices to the customers at every level for the software and doing it in a contracting economy?  The answer is simple, Innovation. Cloud Computing and SaaS has been the key technology ingredient to lowering costs for our customers.  This technology allows LIMS to be run in every type of lab regardless of size and the implementation time reduced to weeks and even days.  This is totally unheard of with the more traditional LIMS deployment.  The biggest benefit above all others is the fact that SaaS LIMS has NO LICENSE FEES!  This is huge and it means that the SaaS based LIMS is a tiny fraction of the cost of the traditional LIMS license purchase model.  This sort of financial and technical innovation is a game changing innovation to the laboratory informatics industry.  You can expect to see more LIMS vendors follow the lead of LabLynx by introducing SaaS LIMS but don’t expect this to be offered by the large public LIMS companies any time soon.  They simply do not have the financial ability to lose the license revenue.  However you will see SaaS being offered by the small to mid-size LIMS companies that can innovate and respond to market demands quickly and have the financial ability to adapt because they are privately held where the owners are the working managers of the company and can invest for the long term while public companies live quarter to quarter.

Here is the bottom line…  Expect to see a radical drop in the cost of purchasing and implementing LIMS over the next 5 years.  You will see many of the large LIMS companies disappear from the market place or they will be purchased by other organizations as part of a strategic acquisition to support internal goals.  This may be the case of the recent LIMS company purchased by Abbott Labs.  History supports this by the list of large LIMS organizations that have been absorbed and/or dissolved due to financial pressures and/or the inability to compete.  The following is a brief list of large LIMS organizations/products that no longer exist in their original state of existence as a business or product:  HP, Beckman, Applied Bio SQL LIMS, and let’s see what happens to the LIMS company purchased by Abbott Labs.

Innovation is the key to longevity for every business whether the business is a commercial lab, government lab or LIMS software company.  If your lab is looking for innovative solutions to gain a competitive advantage, following the herd will not get you there.  By definition the competitive advantage you seek will come from innovative Laboratory Informatics solutions and you can expect to see real innovations built on SaaS and Cloud Computing over the next 5 years.