Monday, February 01, 2010

iPhone meets genome at Illumina

With employees spread across five continents, effective mobile communications are essential for Illumina, a San Diego, CA-based biotechnology company that designs breakthrough tools for genetic analysis. Using iPhone, sales reps can track customers, executives can manage employees, and everyone can stay in touch. And soon Illumina will make it possible for consumers to carry their personal genomes with them on iPhone.

This is one of many enterprise profiles presented on Apple’s website.

iPhone was an obvious technology choice, says Jay Flatley, Illumina's President and CEO. "First and foremost, it's a great phone. But what our employees need goes well beyond that. They need a computer in their hands that can do calculations and data searches, and can manage sales using SalesForce Mobile. Because of the flexibility of the interface, iPhone was the ideal tool for us."

With iPhone apps like Workday HR management software and Cisco WebEx Meeting Center, Illumina executives can do everything from tracking payroll to participating in meetings wherever they are. "iPhone has improved the overall productivity of people at Illumina," says Scott Kahn, Illumina's Chief Information Officer. "It's rare that you deploy a tool and don't get any negative feedback. But with iPhone, the first response is usually 'Thank you.'"

Easy Integration

Deploying iPhone within Illumina's existing IT infrastructure couldn't be easier. Using iPhone Configuration Utility, the IT staff can push configuration profiles for their virtual private network (VPN) and enforce passcodes to secure each device. Setting up iPhone to leverage Exchange capabilities is as simple as double-clicking a configuration file, says Scott Skellenger, Senior Director of Global IT Operations. "All we have to do is direct the phone to the Exchange server and input the user's credentials, and they're off and running."

"iPhone has definitely delivered for Illumina," Kahn agrees. "We found it to be an enterprise-ready device primarily because of the security features. Having the ability to remotely wipe the device was key. It also had to have Exchange, and it needed to be web savvy. On iPhone, those features alone opened the door."

Illumina sees even more business benefits with the latest iPhone software and hardware. "Improvements such as cut-and-paste and the device-wide search capability have added extraordinary value," Skellenger says. "With iPhone 3.0 software, we're able to search our emails, access the global address list in a seamless way, and calendar as if we were sitting at our desks."

The Mobile Personal Genome

For Illumina, iPhone is more than a great mobile business device - it's the delivery platform for an ambitious new approach to personalized medicine.

"Illumina is developing an iPhone application that will allow consumers to carry around their genomic information," Flatley explains. "Part of it may be on the phone itself, part of it may be in the cloud that the phone would have access to. It would allow the customer to bring up the application and interact with it live in conjunction with their doctor."

The iPhone SDK has been extremely easy to work with, Flatley says. Though Illumina's developers had never written an iPhone application before, they were able to produce a fully functional prototype of the application within just ten days. When completed, the final application will allow the company to present complex genomic datasets in an easy-to-understand, consumer-oriented interface.

"The understanding of the human genome, which is very inaccessible to most people, can start to become accessible through iPhone," Flatley says. "It will be a mechanism for communications, for sharing, and for data management. iPhone can translate something very complicated into something very user-friendly." At Illumina, the convergence of science with iPhone is helping transform the future of individual health care.

Click here to watch a video of iPhone in action at Illumina.

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