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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

For 2013: 13 Essential Web Apps for Life Sciences

Connect with clients, brainstorm with colleagues, and manage your online work presence with the aid of these proven tools.  Start 2013 off right.

1. [If THIS then THAT]

For the Life Science professional you can utilize IFTTT to scan all of your on-line news sources for any keywords or phrases and then it will move that information to the destination of your choice whether it be to an email address, blog, Evernote, Dropbox, etc. Further, This is the ONE Tool that will make your entire social network existence easier.  Example:  You write a great article for a LinkedIn Update.  IFTTT can get it automatically posted to your Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, and Blog (and nearly all of your other social media apps).  So no longer are you logging in and out and re-posting.    Invaluable.  And it’s FREE and it’s EASY to use.

2. FiercePharma/Biotech/MedicalDevice/CRO

The “Fierce” family is a valuable news aggregator in the form a newsletter.  Fierce is also available as a newsfeed.  Reading the headlines is a daily must for the Life Science professional.  Pipeline information, mergers, acqusitions, warning letters: all of the big industry news is contained within Fierce.  This is free and you can get a daily subscription straight to your in-box.

3. Dropbox/ 4. Google Drive/ 5. SkyDrive 

If you have not used Dropbox then you are probably still using USB jump drives.  Move your files to Dropbox and have access to them on any mobile or desktop platform.  The famous Adam McFarlin says” Since Dropbox I have stopped using a jump drive altogether.”  He was right.  I now only use a jump drive when I am using a computer that doesn’t have an internet connection.  2 GB FREE.

Similar story with Google Drive [5 GB Free] and SkyDrive [7 GB Free] .  All of these cloud plans provide expanded space for additional monies.  Life Science Warning: Your regulatory affairs department (or individual) or IT Departments may have restricted policies to use off-site e-data [cloud] storage as data security risks.  I am not aware of security validation studies for any cloud storage services.

For the business traveler, and while these apps are not particular pointed to a particular industry, I have found them most useful for business travel.

6. FlightBoard. Select any airport and Flightboard will show you all flights departing/arriving with gate information and flight status.  While I have tried the airline-specific apps, this one is clear and to the point.  Free [for now]. Itunes App Store.

7. Expensify.  One big waste of a day is after a trip you sit at your desk and wade through a crinkled pile of receiptes.  With Expensify you scan them into your phone.  It takes care of a lot of categorizing and data entry.  Back on Monday when you are entering the info into your company’s inflexible excel-format expense report, at least you can cut the time down and with the organized info inside Expensify.  I suggest that you talk to the head of accounting and convince them to adopt Expensify as the corporate standard.  Got a small company?  Your odds are even better. Free.


8. NIH RePORTer. The NIH Reporter is a portfolio of all federally funded NIH projects.  The data goes back for at least a couple of decades and shows which projects were run, who ran them, where they were conducted, what the results were and how much money was spent on them.  There is also section which shows projected dollars budgeted to be spent based on disease/affliction. You will become hooked on this well organized database. Free, thanks to your tax dollars.

9. Basecamp.  An excellent project management tool, very useful for on-line collaboration of projects. This software is very flexible.  It is not as robust as Microsoft Project but the on-line collaboration aspect is a huge plus.  A 60 day free trial and then pricing starts at $20/month.

10. Constant Contact.  Among some other aspects this application is most commonly used for on-line surveys.  I recently organized a Life Science Information Exchange event and used Constant Contact to electronically survey the attendees about their experience and recommendations.  Rather than use a paper-based survey where the responses are hurriedly scrawled as the attendees rush out the door, this survey was emailed and then they could take their time with thoughtful replies.  One of the best parts is the myriad ways to report the results.  This is an excellent tool.  Use it for brainstorming ideas too! Free (I have only used the free version).

11. About.Me The fact is, it isn’t about me OR you, but it is, sort of.  What I mean to say is that About.Me is a personal webpage where an individual can put a brief (preferred) resume that talks about them.  What it really does is provide a company the opportunity to boast about their people and this gives potential customers a personal connection with the staff.  While LinkedIn will give a lengthy resume, About.Me helps make the individuals (and thus the organization) approachable.  Free.

12.  Mind Jet  MindManager.  Brainstorming software.  Throw every thought and idea onto the page.  Use MindManager to organize them into related (or not) connections.  Much like a brown paper process map exercise, this is a digital approach, (and your post-it notes won’t fall off).  $15/Month/user Alternative: FreeMind (free).  My friend Gary Dean prefers to use Visio over MindJet.

13. GoToMeeting.  Tried and true. GoToMeeting is the adjustable wrench of your on-line toolbox.  It is indispensable and the best of the on-line meeting applications. 30 day free trial or $49/month.