TurboWorx has recently taken steps to expand its reach into new vertical markets, like financial services, but "our primary focus is still the life sciences," according to Jason Alter, the company's newly appointed director of marketing.
Alter, who joined the firm in March from IBM, where he most recently served as manager of program marketing for the Healthcare and Life Sciences business unit, said that he was hired to "build awareness for the blend of high-performance computing technology we have." TurboWorx offers a mix of distributed computing and workflow technology, "and we haven't done enough of a job to communicate our message to the audience," he said.
In February, TurboWorx CEO Jeff Augen told BioInform that he saw promising opportunities for the company's technology in additional markets [BioInform 02-14-05], but Alter said that the move into financial services is not a sign that TurboWorx plans to pull back on its life science efforts.
The life science market does offer several unique challenges, however, that Alter said will be crucial for the company to address if it is to expand its share of the market. One of these is the difficulty in the calculating return on investment for IT infrastructure in life science R&D, he said.
"It's not easy to do that in this space," he acknowledged. "It's not always easy to show that in real proof points, [but] as much as possible, we're going to show return on investment."
The company has already made good on this promise. In a recent case study published by IBM, proteomics-based drug-discovery firm Protana claims that TurboWorx' Builder workflow-management software and its Enterprise distributed computing technology helped reduce its setup time for analytical data processing by 90 percent over its previous manual process. Overall throughput for the data-processing platform improved by 100 percent, according to Thodoros Topaglou, senior vice president of scientific computing and IT at Protana.
Alter said that further examples like Protana's will be necessary for the company to move forward. "What I learned at IBM was really, I think, the things to do and the things not to do when you're building market awareness and attempting to build a business in the sciences from an information technology company's perspective," he said.
So, what is it that life science informatics should do — or not do — based on what he's learned? "A lot of technology companies focus on how wonderful the technology is, when they should really be focusing on how the technology helps the customer solve a specific problem," he said.