Practical considerations Building a Smart Laboratory 2017

the composition of the project team, change management and user support.

Human factors l What practical problems do laboratory

workers experience with existing laboratory processes and data workflows?

l How well will laboratory workers accommodate change? and

l Are there any cultural, political or other internal relationships that could have an impact on the project?

Potential problems associated with change management should be identified. Tis may be at an individual level or at an organisational level.

Internal culture and technology adoption

Te introduction of multi-user IT systems into organisations has a mixed track record. Multi-user systems are usually specified by a project team and oſten contain a number of compromises and assumptions about the way people work. High-level business objectives can therefore be put in jeopardy if users do not successfully adopt the new system. However, most case studies on electronic laboratory notebook implementations indicate a positive user take-up. Tis may be attributed to a growing understanding of aspects of technology adoption, originally reported by Everett Rogers in his book, Te Diffusion of Innovations,[15]


developed further by Geoffrey Moore in Crossing the Chasm[16]

. Moore’s ‘Chasm’ (see Figure 7)

is the gap between the early adopters and the mainstream market. Te early adopters are a relatively easy market. Targeting them initially is important, but the next phase of the marketing strategy must target the conservative and pragmatic majority. Te early adopters can play a central role in this. Since the electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) project team is likely to be formed from the early adopters, they can play a pivotal role not only in specifying and selecting a solution, but in articulating the rationale for the ELN, provide training and ongoing support to the conservative and pragmatic majority. User adoption is oſten considered one

of the most critical success factors of an IT project, and paying appropriate attention to user requirements will enhance the likelihood of success. Key to this is the recognition that people

are more likely to comply with a request when: l A reason is provided; l Tere is give and take; l Tey see others complying;


Visionaries Looking for a breakthrough

Technology Enthusiasts Looking for some neat technology

l Te request comes from someone they respect or like; and

l Te request comes from a legitimate source of authority.

Concerns about user adoption can be reduced by carefully choosing the project team to ensure that these criteria are addressed, rather than just announcing a new system and the training course schedule. Typically, putting a strong emphasis on user requirements and user adoption by engaging users throughout the process tends to brand the implementation as a ‘laboratory’ project, rather than an ‘IT’ project, and this can make it easier for scientists to accept the proposed change. Te Technology Acceptance Model[17]


Figure 8) is an information systems theory that models how users come to accept and use a technology. Te model suggests that, when users are presented with a new soſtware package, a number of factors influence their decision about how and when they will use it. Te main ones

are: l Perceived usefulness (PU): ‘Te degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would enhance his or her job performance’; and

l Perceived ease-of-use (EOU): ‘Te degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would be free from effort.’

Fig. 7: Crossing the Chasm

Pragmatists Looking for

an improvement

Conservatives Believe in tradition

Sceptics Not


Te technology acceptance model assumes that, when someone forms an intention to act, they will be free to act without limitation. In the real world there will be many constraints such as limited ability, time constraints, environmental or organisational limits, or unconscious habits that will limit the freedom to act. Concentration on the positive aspects of

‘usefulness’, both to the organisation and to the individual, and ‘ease of use’ will help users develop a positive attitude. It is in this area that the early adopters can have a powerful influence on their conservative and pragmatic peers.

Technology considerations

Multi-user informatics systems are typically based on two- or three-tiered structures in which the application soſtware and database may share a server or be located on separate servers, and the client-side soſtware deployed on a local desktop, laptop or mobile device. Traditionally, the servers are based in-house, but hosted services (cloud/SaaS) are generating increasing interest, based on potential business benefits. From the user perspective, the client-side

options fall into two categories: thick client and thin client. Te thick client is usually a

Innovators Innovators Early adopters Early majority Late majority Laggards

Early adopters

2 to 3 per cent

10 per cent 36 per cent 36 per cent 15 per cent

Technology enthusiasts: want to be first to try new technology; want one of everything.

Visionaries: able to align technology with strategic opportunities; willing to take risks; horizontally oriented.

Pragmatists: cautious with risk and money; loyal; vertically oriented.

Conservatives: opposed to discontinuous innovation; believe in tradition rather than progress.

Sceptics: negative attitude towards technology; identify discrepancies between what’s promised and what’s delivered.

Early majority

Late majority


The Chasm

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