Merck checks out tablets for R&D

Biotech IT decision-makers are fast approaching the fish-or-cut-bait point on touchscreen tablets. Although their use is a virtual slam-dunk in pharma sales and marketing, it's a trickier question on the R&D side.

Merck affiliate MSD sees pluses. In the ongoing transition to electronic lab notebooks, touchscreen tablet interfaces offer "huge productivity gains," says CIO Chris Scalet in Silicon Republic. He says he's actively looking, and MSD adoption will be application-driven.

IT will have to decide when to build apps that are unique to the tablet vendor's operating system versus more generic ones that use the HTML 5 spec.

Either way, touchscreen tablets are likely to have a noticeable impact on IT. Consultancy PwC says the devices--and smartphones, too--change the traditional IT delivery model from top-down (standard hardware, predefined apps) to bottom-up, with employees bringing their own devices to work and using the apps they select.

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