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What our market is telling us

Getting feedback

We looked at the research on the explosion of data and the challenges it was causing. Then we went straight to researchers at the coal face and looked for their opinions and feedback.

Through friends and colleagues we managed to put together a pretty comprehensive email list of researchers/PhD students in over 10 different colleges/research institutes around the world. We wrote emails to each telling them what we were up to and asking for help. First we asked them to fill in a simple 2 minute survey and secondly if any were were interested, would they mind giving up some of their valuable time to test software for us.

80% of those surveyed replied, including nearly 300 offering to test the software for us because they said there was such a need.

Let’s share the results of the survey:

  • We asked how people currently managed their data storage. 80% used a combination of Dropbox, Google Drive and One Drive combined with local storage and USB sticks.

  • We asked how people shared data with other team members. 82% said through personal Dropbox files, through email and by sharing USB sticks.

  • We asked some questions about what lab automation software and what data analytics software they were using AND how they configured this software to manage data from their experiments. Over 90% of those surveyed used Labview, Matlab, Pytnon, R, Origin, Excel. Of those 95% would have used drivers or ‘hacked’ the software in those applications to configure. Nearly all still had to do some cutting and pasting or dragging and dropping to move data back and forth from the storage system. Approx. 3% had coding skills and would have used programming languages such as Python to try and seamlessly link between their lab software and storage.

There’s a saying: you hear what you want to hear. We were hearing what we wanted to hear from the survey because it all resonated with our own experiences and provided justification for what we set out to build. So to get more of a reality check we also interviewed 50 of the group surveyed. These interviews ranged from 10 minutes to 2 hours. The interviews convinced us that we were dealing with a real problem in the scientific research community. The way data was being handled was not up to scratch. Millions was being spent on the best lab equipment, the best lab automation software to carry out the best experiments possible. But data management was not keeping up. There is a smorgasbord of different ad hoc approaches for storing, managing, sharing and searching scientific data. The problem is hassle, time lost, inefficient use of resources. As more and more data is produced the problems are getting worse. Well that’s what we’re telling ourselves anyway and it’s what our friends and colleagues are experiencing. And our beta users are saying that Rinocloud is a gift that keeps on giving. Time will tell!

Fin is a founder of Rinocloud. With a career in banking, software, greentech and research, he is a veteran of many data management campaigns. And has the scars and war stories to prove it.