Bioinformatics enables biotechnology companies to access and analyse their growing databases of experimental results, and to exploit public data from genome programmes and other sources. Traditionally occupying the domain of a 'guru' supplying answers to infrequent research questions, corporate bioinformatics is breaking down under the flood of data. New, more robust, professional and expandable systems will give scientists effective access to new tools. This review outlines how companies have evolved beyond the 'guru', and have organized their bioinformatics by acquiring or developing bioinformatics resources. It also describes why the biologist must be central to this process, and why this is a problem for computer professionals to solve, not for 'gurus'.