December 1, 2007 (Vol. 27, No. 21)

Relegating Aging Legacy Systems to the Scrap Heap Will Open the Doors for New Solutions

Large pharmaceutical companies’ that increasingly house aging laboratory information management systems (LIMS) are long overdue for replacement. These inevitable replacements represent one of the largest opportunities for growth in the life science research and discovery LIMS market. In addition, because the information technology infrastructure for most pharmaceutical firms is spread out over multiple business units and varied geographic locations, there will be increased demand for enterprise-wide LIMS solutions.

Typically, users of enterprise LIMS solutions have made considerable investment in their current LIMS infrastructure. As a result, they are often reluctant to replace their systems. Replacement, however, is often mandated by unanticipated expansion that makes previous-generation systems obsolete. LIMS vendors are responding with easy-to-integrate, off-the-shelf homogeneous business solutions.

Moreover, vendors are designing these off-the-shelf LIMS solutions to be future-proof, or flexible for tomorrow’s expansions. Vendors are creating systems with an improved framework capable of withstanding the impending technological and business changes. These future-proofed systems incorporate adaptable applications that are expected to enhance the user’s business by providing value over a longer period of time.

Despite advancements, legacy LIMS systems continue to be a barrier to adoption of modern second-generation configurable solutions. For example, when a LIMS solution is considered for pharmaceutical manufacturing operations, every aspect of the organization must carefully analyze its needs for a replacement. Although the amount of biological data being generated is urging the need for more robust systems, many companies are still conservative in terms of recognizing LIMS’ return on investment.

If a manufacturing plant needs revised production process controls to strengthen its productivity gains and speed up drug manufacture, then LIMS is surely a good choice, but a stepwise modular approach (i.e., PAT) must be deployed to assess inefficiencies and automate those operations.

The continual need to replace aging legacy systems with more efficient LIMS solutions will drive continuous growth in the life science R&D LIMS market from 2008–2011. Market growth, however, is not anticipated to be as high as it has been historically due to a reduction in new LIMS installations over the next few years, as the majority of life science R&D laboratories are likely to have previously purchased a LIMS. Most revenue growth is expected to be from professional services and LIMS upgrades in 2008 and 2009.

Jonathan Witonsky is manager and industry analyst in the drug discovery technologies and clinical diagnostics group of Frost & Sullivan.
E-mail: [email protected].

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