Over the weekend, I happened to turn on the show “America’s Test Kitchen” where they typically give you pointers on how to buy various kitchen equipment. This time, they were talking about a pan with a variety of names. This pan is known a frying pan, a sauté pan, an omelette pan, and any other variety of names. The names seem to vary by manufacturer and aren’t helpful in buying the right pan.
Thus, the way the TV show selected the right pan to buy is by looking at pans with the proper shape for the purpose. Thus, their advice was “shop by shape, not by name.” It struck me this is good advice for us in the laboratory informatics industry, these days.
After all, think of the terms LIMS, ELN, SDMS and the like and how they blend together. Then, there’s the fact that each software vendor applies the term they feel best fits their product, but does not necessarily pick a name that would agree with what another vendor would have selected.
Even for us, rather than shopping for these products by name, we must entirely rely on functionality. Thus, we really should be looking at the “shape” of these products, not the name. Hence, the very same advice applies to us, as well.