The direction of travel for laboratories is always a tricky one to predict as we're in a race with the rate of technological development and who knows what might crop up in the next few decades that could utterly change the game. But what we have seen is a clear narrative when it comes to lab software, how it is sought out, how it is applied and what that leaves us in a fairly strong position to predict the future.
In the Beginning...
There was LIMS. Not quite as catchy, eh? We started off with a series of individual software applications that all fell under their own definition; LIMS, LIS, ELN etc. These were all manufactured, sold and applied differently with each company specialising in a certain area. But we were in the early stages so the practical move had to be towards simplifying the approach and streamlining it. So then we moved to the stage we're currently at...
The here and now
The move here was more practical; LIMS systems have begun to absorb the other applications to fit all under one umbrella suite, to the point where one is assumed to include the other. The services are provided by one, universal services provider which incorporates business advice, implementation, migration, deployment and service management. So now where do we go from here?
Back to the future!
It would have made a much worse film but it's quite interesting in this situation. The shift is beginning to move away from the generalist approach to streamline it even more by reducing the amount of chaff. Just look at the growth of modular service providers, reducing the bits you don't need and only providing what you do need. Everything's moving back down into specialism in order for us to hit the plateau of productivity with the technological development of LIMS. For businesses what this means is the practical growth of independent service providers from management services to deployment services, with each part adding up to a more efficient whole. To streamline it further forward we'll likely see the development of merging of these small and medium companies to provide dedicated services under one arm but also potentially towards greater collaboration. When it comes to costing the cost to benefit ratio is now higher as the services being provided are more dedicated, with an individual shorter cost and a collectively higher long cost. As we move into the next phase of LIMS development and we see these services start to anchor together in a collective web, we'll see the highest cost to benefit ratio as the cost comes down under the collective but the dedicated nature of the service is maintained.