My workshop at IQPC Brussels yesterday

Jo and I gave a workshop on “ELNs in Biology” which people seem to enjoy. My thanks to the attendees who not only listened to what we had to say but contributed their own expertise and experience too which greatly enriched the experience for all involved.

We didn’t know what the attendees were going to want to cover so I must confess the presentations don’t read as well as they hopefully came across. However, I hope they will provoke some thoughts all the same.

My overall proposition is that Biology is a very different beast from Chemistry and what works in Chemistry – the products, approaches to the projects, rollout strategies, etc. all need to be reviewed in the light of the special challenges of Biology environments.

There were two main presentations I used. The first looked at the ELN story from Chemistry from Biology and some of the differences between the two. You can download it here.

The second presentation looked at the Technology Adoption Lifecycle (TALC), which was first described by Geoffrey Moore in his book “Crossing the Chasm”. The TALC describes how people react to discontinuous/disruptive innovations and how you can help your innovation get adopted as easily and widely as possible. My contention is that Biology userbases are sufficiently complex that you should use Chasm-crossing techniques to both develop and deploy your ELN. You can read the presentation here.

Interestingly there were a number of people in the workshop who had successfully deployed an ELN into Biology and they had used Chasm-crossing techniques to do so – not because they’d heard of the concept (they hadn’t) but because it was the most sensible approach.

I’ve also uploaded the presentations to SlideShare, but the conversion process is taking some time. Once they are up the SlideShare versions should have the transitions and builds etc. which might make for a better reading experience. They should be on my SlideShare page in due course.

There’s lots of other stuff that came up in discussion, which I will try to cover in later blog posts. For example:

  • What you see in conferences and publications in terms of case studies etc. isn’t representative of what’s really going on. There’s a lot of in-house development, a lot of use of Microsoft Office and other applications – but because there’s no vendor involved, they don’t get publicity because most publicity needs paying for, e.g. speaking slots, article placements etc. Sadly these are often the most successful deployments of ELN functionality – but it didn’t come from a vendor with “ELN” stamped on the box!
  • I don’t believe you can have one ELN for Chemistry and Biology – or even for all of Biology.
  • All of this is dependent on your definition of “Chemistry” and “Biology” – and this varies from company to company. In particular big Pharma seem to conduct a restricted set of activities on a very large scale (perhaps because all the really weird stuff is effectively outsourced to Biotechs) – which makes taking lessons from any company very difficult.
  • Of course, sales and marketing efforts by various vendors do nothing to clarify this already muddled picture!

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