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Scientific Computing World Article: A Digital Journey

Article Excerpt Featuring Dave Dorsett,  Astrix Principal Software Engineer

Determining the best approach to a digital transformation effort can be a confusing and complex task for most organisations, suggests Dave Dorsett, principal software architect at information technology consultancy, Astrix. ‘No single approach exists to transport you from a current state of paper processes, siloed technologies and inconsistent data sets to the digitally transformed laboratory of the future. The reality is the digitisation journey will be different for everyone, based upon the unique set of circumstances surrounding your business.’ However, three pillars build the foundation for all successful digital transformation initiatives: people, process and technology.

Think of the example of a three-legged stool, he continues. All three legs must be present and solid for the stool to provide support and its intended function for long-term use. ‘The most important ‘leg’ (or pillar) for the support and sustainability of your digital transformation strategy is people. Having the right leadership in place is absolutely critical to providing a culture of innovation to foster the dramatic change that will take place in your organisation. The people within your organisation are essential not only to carrying out the effort itself, but also must embrace the changes that will continue to drive your digital transformation strategy.

The second pillar, process, is the biggest single tool necessary for digital transformation. Achieving practical process analysis to support digital transformation means keeping your eye on the goal, not on the process itself, Dorsett maintains. ‘Basic operational process improvement opportunities are likely to be found across the organisation, and include the elimination of the manual entry of data and automating what people are doing repeatedly. Before embarking down the path to directly eliminate these practices, take the time to determine what people are doing before and after. The key to creating a truly transformative environment is to develop a roadmap of your ‘as is’ and ‘to be’ future-state scientific processes, then mapping out the data from end to end.’

The third and final pillar of a successful digital transformation strategy is technology. Perhaps one of the most commonly misunderstood elements of digital transformation programs is the tendency to focus on the operational systems within the laboratory: LIMS, ELN, CDS and SDMS, to name a few. ‘The goal is to address the data created and consumed by the organisation, not to implement systems per se,’ Dorsett stresses. ‘It is not a ‘buy and deploy it’ project: no vendor sells what is required to operate as a data-driven organisation.’

Accessibility of data is, Dorsett continues, ‘everything!’ Achieving a state of ‘analytics-ready’ is about R&D data flow throughout every aspect of your operations. ‘Siloed technologies and manual processes impede the flow and accessibility of data. Achieving seamless R&D data flow also has cultural requirements (data governance) and technical requirements (semantic tooling).’

Exponential growth in R&D data has, in addition, generated immense interest in whether and how R&D data may be used more effectively. ‘Efforts to become data-centric to enable ‘running with algorithms’ and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for predictive purposes have become commonplace.’

Read the full article here: Scientific Computing World,  Summer 2021 issue

About Astrix

For over 25 years, Astrix has been a market-leader in dedicated digital transformation & dedicated staffing services for science-based businesses. Through our proven laboratory informatics, digital quality & compliance, and scientific staffing services we deliver the highly specialized people, processes, and technology to fundamentally transform how science-based businesses operate. Astrix was founded by scientists to solve the unique challenges which science-based businesses face in the laboratory and beyond. We’re dedicated to helping our clients speed & improve scientific outcomes to help people everywhere.