Its clear that decision support systems and analytics engines make a good fit for applied science disciplines. Its also clear that bioinformatics is one of the areas that can benefit the most. Spotfire Inc.s DecisionSite is a good fit for those areas (see eWEEK Labs review of Spotfire DecisionSite Posters 7.1.1).
Accelrys Inc., the software development arm of Pharmacopeia Inc., a company that offers products and services enabling drug and chemical discovery, has a fleet of products that work in tandem with DecisionSite and other analytics engines. A cursory glance might lead people to think that Spotfires DecisionSite and Accelrys main products are direct competitors. After all, there is overlap in the genomic and biological fields. In fact, they are often complementary solutions.
Accelrys has a wide array of products, but two of the most interesting are DS Gene and DS Modeling, which work in tandem with DecisionSite. Whereas DecisionSite is a powerful application for analyzing existing data, Accelrys products were developed to take initial raw data and embellish it with new data that can be calculated from the original data. That data can be passed into DecisionSite for analysis and visualization.
Accelrys main expertise comes from bridging the mind-sets of biologists and chemists, who often see the world differently. For example, a chemist may view a drug as a series of structural formulas, while a biologist might see gene interactions. This division is one reason of many that new drugs that work effectively have been so slow to develop over the years.
To create the bridge between the two disciplines, Accelrys created DS Modeling for chemists and DS Gene for biologists. A third package called Discovery Studio ties the two together and is used to create the embellished data.
Although it is impossible to say if any new, widely recognized drugs have been created using the combination of Accelrys tools and DecisionSite, it is likely that some were. Biotech biggie Biogen Inc. has patents pending on drugs created in part with Accelrys. Pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP and GlaxoSmithKline are big customers.
But Accelrys products are not restricted to pharmaceutical concerns. General Motors Corp., for example, is also a customer, as is IBM. This shows how intertwined applied science disciplines are with our lives. For example, GM might use the Accelrys software to discover how to improve battery performance in electric and hybrid cars. IBM may be using the software to create chemicals that will lead to better integrated circuit and transistor designs.
While Accelrys products are strictly geared toward biology and chemistry, the companys technology also provides a good indicator of what we can expect from enterprise analytics vendors in the next few years. We can imagine software, for example, that bridges the minds of those on the business side and those on the technology side.