The balance of a professional IT setup
A talk with one of our customers, Royal RepubliQ, inspired us to look into strategies where the best IT solutions are combined to work as one. Also called the best-of breed approach – a concept that allows companies to choose applications from different software providers and mix-match them to cover all business areas.
The decision to change the IT setup is never an easy one and in so doing, you are ultimately faced with the option of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ Fully Integrated System (FIS) or a combination of Best of Breed (BOB) applications performing defined functions or parts. There are advantages and disadvantages for both approaches. So, how do you decide what is right for you and your organization?
A brief history lesson: The Best-of-Breed versus Fully Integrated Systems
Let’s revisit the origins of the “best-of-breed versus one-size-fits-all” debate. Before the open-architecture made it easy to add, upgrade, and swap software components, if you chose one piece of a provider’s software for your business, you had to adopt all of that’s provider’s software. For example, if that provider’s financial applications were amazing but their operations tools were terrible, you were still stuck with both.
This often meant that while some departments were thrilled about their software, other departments were left pining for better software from other companies – usually from companies who were truly focused on that specific department’s needs. Because the buyer-seller relationship has evolved so dramatically in recent years, the role of the marketer has evolved dramatically as well. And to stay competitive, marketers need technology solutions that have also evolved – in fact, they need solutions that are continuously evolving.
Big technology suite providers, who divide their attention and innovation between every department at once, simply can’t keep pace with the needs for all departments. APIs (application programming interfaces) made it possible to individually select and combine the best software for every department’s need.
What to choose?
It’s a tough question, and a huge responsibility to decide what works best according to your organization needs. It all depends on the company size, culture and management structure, as well as the company focus and ability to scale quickly and easily. Regardless the solution type, it is important to make a pre-analysis of your organization and take in consideration the opinion of your end-users who will interact with the solution.
Another factor to have in mind is the development of the IT industry and the arising of new software providers. We will see more ERP vendors and cloud-based applications benefiting from the API Economy to easily integrate and combine different solutions. This will, consequently, boost competitiveness in the market and bring interesting insights to look after.
Fully Integrated System (FIS)
This refers to a single system, technology and database – meeting “all” of the organization’s requirements and usually, sourced from a single supplier. The advantages are that you have a single point of responsibility and one technology. Disadvantages are that the detail functionality is often limited, customization is more difficult and when you ultimately have to upgrade, it is a bigger exercise.
Best of Breed (BOB)
BOB are the best individual systems purchased from the leading suppliers and then integrated appropriately for your organization. The main advantage is that you get the best, feature rich and flexible solution from multiple suppliers, where the solutions are integrated through API’s. The technology risk is largely reduced as a decision can be made as to a single database and environment. Upgrades are also only applicable to individual parts, which are easier to manage.