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Is the Bioinformatics Buzz Back? Survey Says Optimism is High for Life Science IT

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A recent survey conducted by IDC’s Life Science Insights market research subsidiary has found end users and vendors to be optimistic that life science IT spending will soon be on the rise.

Of 79 life science IT professionals who responded to the survey, 54 — or 68 percent — indicated that IT budgets would “increase” or “dramatically increase” over the remainder of 2004. Vendors, however, were a bit more optimistic than end users: Around 26 percent of vendors reported that IT budgets would dramatically increase, compared to 15 percent of end users.

Paul Gillyon, COO and managing director of LSI, told BioInform that the discrepancy between vendor and user optimism isn’t surprising. “We shouldn’t read too much into this,” he said. “The vendors are kind of driven by a spirit of optimism.

“If you talk to an end user in a drug development lab, and ask them about their IT spend, they will focus very specifically on IT applications or infrastructure that they see directly associated with drug development, but … a marketing executive on the vendor side would probably have a wider view of that same organization and might, for example, see a wider investment in data integration infrastructure, which an individual end user wouldn’t necessarily see.”

Respondents also indicated that they are still grappling with the persistent challenge of data integration. Of 185 respondents who specified their “most pressing” technology issues, 53 — or 29 percent — cited data integration. Gillyon said that there is “certainly a commercial opportunity” for informatics vendors working in this area. In particular, he cited large mergers like Pharmacia/Pfizer and the pending Aventis/Sanofi merger as opportunities for large-scale data integration projects “because it’s not always the kind of thing that end users would want to invest the time and effort into solving,” he said.

On the other hand, respondents indicated that they no longer view the price/performance of high-performance computing systems to be a pressing issue. Only 3 percent of respondents indicated that this was a technical challenge. Gillyon said that this response is consistent with trends in the overall IT market. “The price/performance of computer power and storage is more or less a non-issue these days,” he said. “I think the world has accepted that with very reasonable costs, you can buy as much compute power as you want.”

— BT

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