Silicon Genetics said it has formed a professional services group in response to customer requests to merge its GeNet enterprise solution into their existing workflow.
"Customers say [GeNet] is a great tool, but they want it embedded within their process and that means that we have to understand that process and be able to integrate our products a lot more tightly," said Saeid Akhtari, COO of Silicon Genetics.
Akhtari said the company announced the new group as a "gift" to its customers at its first users'' conference, held in San Francisco on June 22.
In addition to integrating its products with its customers'' internal systems, Silicon Genetics expects the new unit to develop custom algorithms and databases as well as consult in the areas of data migration, process engineering, data analysis, and biostatistics.
Akhtari said that Silicon Genetics has been providing these services as part of its software products, "but the idea would be to productize some of these services and actually be able to get paid for it."
The new capability may also give the company an edge over its competition in the gene expression analysis market, which is growing steadily more crowded. A number of new vendors are providing desktop analysis tools along the lines of its GeneSpring product, and Gene Logic recently launched its own enterprise-wide gene expression analysis platform.
Silicon Genetics is following in the path of other bioinformatics software vendors, such as InforMax and Accelrys, which have also cited customer demand as the basis for their newly beefed-up consulting units.
Akhtari said Silicon Genetics has already moved some of its current scientific staff to the professional services department and is seeking additional experts in gene expression, data analysis and visualization, and biostatistics to round out the unit.
The professional services group should employ between 10 and 12 people by the end of the year, Akhtari said. Silicon Genetics currently has a staff of 50.