In early 2010 I made a prediction that Commercially Off The Shelf (or COTS) would eventually be replaced by BPMS suites. It was in the right direction but looking at the market now, larger vendors are now moving into the realm of enterprise platform plays rather than simply process automation, where you can build an entire suite of applications all under the one software roof.
So what does this mean for SME level software vendors who have specific limited and packaged offerings ?
There are packages out there that handle very specific use cases only and for some will require surgery in order to fulfil whatever competitive advantage an organisation will want to seek over their competitors. That costs money and time not to mention proprietary integration into legacy systems. I knew of a UK financial organisation that spent upwards of £30m trying to refactor an Investment banking solution to become their Retail mortgage and secured loan platform….naturally they went bust and asked the Government for a bail out for their sheer stupidity.
But you have to question that if they knew of application platforms like those from the likes of Bonitasoft, TIBCO, Pega and others they’d have spent one tenth of the money and implemented six years earlier. The problem with COTS is that whilst they deploy out of the box potentially you may only use 65% of the functionality on offer, stripping out a large proportion of redundant screens and workflow you just don’t need, so potentially wasting that hard-earned investment, for a start.
And this is where these platform application-based tools come into play and potentially steal a lot of limelight. If they live up to their marketing and truly offer rapid ways for a business to create and deploy real enterprise level applications with the necessary connectors to back-end systems and can create the application to exactly fit a business scenario with all the competitive and bespoke advantages the business wants to create, then why would you look to a fixed packaged solution at all ?
Some of the more progressive platform vendors offer framework solutions as a base to get you up and running, others have a rich and open community who are building integrators and solutions. It’s a growing trend and will not only differentiate propositions on offer but also squeeze out the smaller bespoke players looking to gain a foothold on an enterprise level.
It’s a simplistic picture but it boils down to the old question faced by organisations every day: Build or Buy.
Or in context of today’s rapidly evolving software market: what do I buy to build ?