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Within the last decade there has been a rapid growth in the adoption of Mass Spectrometry (MS) as a routine and facile technique not just by a group of expert level mass spectrometrists, but by a much more diverse group of non-MS related disciplines. This shift continues to be fueled by a number of factors, which can be broadly segregated into, instrumental technologies, the derived high value of the technique, the cost per sample, the derived information content, ease of use and software.
Advances in sensitivity, ruggedness, reliability, ease of integration with High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), Gas Chromatography (GC) and other separation techniques and the general ease of operation of MS instrumentation can all be considered as enabling. Ultimately, the strongest driver for the wide adoption of MS has been driven by the clear value that the technique brings to so many different businesses in terms of both sample throughput and information content per sample. This expansion in the ability to create data both in terms of volume and in data density per dataset can be correlated directly with a backlog in the ability to extract, process, store and report, and thereby create the resulting high information and knowledge content which is sought. Data that are generated by the instruments in their various guises are simply binary bits and bytes and information has to be extracted via a process of conversion of data to information and knowledge. Software therefore becomes an integral, critical and enabling part of the cycle of information creation in support of compound development and chemical analysis.