"There are two kinds of companies, those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less. We will be the second." - Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
***Please note the SampleServe Software and programs have been majorly updated since this post was created.
When SampleServe.com first started back in 2001, the goals we had for the company were completely different than the goals we have now. Back then the internet was just gaining momentum and not everyone was comfortable having their data online. As a matter of fact, some people were actually outright opposed to it.
In the beginning we wanted to be a "field service" company. In 2002 we developed an online data management tool to facilitate our own sampling. Being efficiency minded, we wanted to be able to lay out a project and print chain of custody's, sample bottle label's, and sample location maps ahead of time so that our own field staff could sample quicker and with fewer mistakes. The client access function where that the client could log in and generate their own reports if they wanted too. A byproduct of our own logistical needs. It was actually one of our programmers at the time that suggested having the client login and print out some of their own tables. I said, "Great Idea! The data is already there, why not?" So we added it.
Unfortunately, not much happened with SampleServe.com for a while, largely because I was busy doing other things. In 2008 when I decided to give it my full attention again, things started taking off. The software was revamped and the selling went full force. The goal was still to be a "field services" company. Again, the software was meant to be a "value added" to the client and something that separated us from other companies.
It was in early 2011 while meeting with a large nationwide engineering company to discuss their sampling needs when they said, "Well, we really want to keep doing our own sampling, but we really like your software. Can we just use your software?" I had actually heard that question a few times previously, but this time it struck home. It occurred to me that we should be a software company also. It took about a year to revamp the software to allow clients access to the ability to set up their own projects (i.e. print their own chain of custody and sample bottle labels, etc..) but when complete, we were officially a software company.
We've been moving along and continually improving our software since then but now it's time for the next iteration of SampleServe.com. Just for grins, I'm calling it SampleServe 2.0.
SampleServe 2.0 is still in field services, that's been our bread and butter, but now we're emphasizing software and developing our own tablet/smart phone application. People have asked why we don't get out of the field services business if we want to be a software company. My answer is that laboratory services and the testing and analysis function will soon be moving into the field and we want to be in a position to take advantage of that market as the technology developments.
Mobile smart devices and sensor technologies that can detect lung cancer using a breathalyzer like device and other technologies are being developed all the time. I imagine a time in the not to distance future were the results from sampling of any kind are displayed almost instantly on a mobile device (Think Star Trek Tricorder). So the question now is, is it better to be a laboratory trying to move into the field services arena or a field services company trying to provide lab services?
Here is how SampleServe 2.0 will be the same.
- We will still do field sampling for clients that want the service (using "tricorders" as they become available).
- We will still allow clients that do their own sampling access our project management and reporting functions.
Here is how SampleServe 2.0 will be different:
- SampleServe 2.0 will be able to be accessed directly through your current participating laboratory's website. I have one poll question for those that are interested here: Lab Data Reporting Poll
- We will have improved project set up and project management functions. Many functions that are repetitive will be automated.
- Project management and reporting for other media will be available (e.g. soil, air, surface water, sediment, soil vapor, asbestos, mold and radon).
- Sampling instructions and access to the system will be available through a tablet/smartphone application. Data will be able to be collected and uploaded directly from the application. Photos and GPS coordinates and sampling details will be able to be input through the applications features.
- Sample bottle labels will be able to be printed in the field with QR Codes and text that identifies all sampling details using a small inexpensive simple 12-volt label printer.
- Electronic "Chains of Custody" will be automatically generated and e-mailed to the lab ahead of the samples for efficient automated sample login by laboratories using the sample bottle label QR Codes.
I'd like to say exactly when SampleServe 2.0 will be completed, however, currently the timeline is inversely proportional to the budget.