In my last entry, I posited that technology should NOT be a barrier to “appifying” R&D workflows. So why haven’t apps taken off so far in R&D? I’d argue that it comes down to the paradigm shift that mobile technology has created in computing. Turning an existing software workflow into an app requires distilling the core essence of a task to a minimalistic, simple user interface that focuses on what really matters. Further, because even apps designed for niche use will be compared to the current menagerie of consumer apps that many of us use daily, scientists will expect a quality user experience.
That’s a tall order for the typical software vendor, which is why the Pistoia Alliance is pursuing an “app strategy” aimed at bringing together three necessary components to “appify” R&D:
- The technology components needed to produce useful R&D apps
- The scientific software engineers with the skill to assemble apps
- The life science researchers who want to use the finished products
By encouraging all parties to come together, the Pistoia Alliance seeks to create a community where professionals can engage one another to map out solutions to problems with a high signal to noise ratio. And we think this community will be a powerful force for innovation. By offering a quality user experience, focused features sets, a shallow learning curve, and ease of installation, app versions of scientific workflows will be more likely to be used by large numbers of people, and will be more likely to be used more frequently—wherever there is a way for the tool to be useful. That will mean more productive scientists, and more opportunities to innovate.
Look for more information on our app strategy in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what apps you would like to use (or are currently using) for R&D.