Too often when evaluating software, the decision leads to the implementation of a single-point solution. So, what are single-point solutions?

Single-point solutions are designed for a specific role or sector. Think marketing, legal case management, financial and some CRM solutions. These solutions are often quick to deploy and configure, but beware, as they can quickly create a data silo within the business. 

As an experienced technology consultant, I have seen many examples of companies overwhelmed by software and siloed data. There's a solution for sales, another for marketing. Finance has a solution as does payroll, legal and HR. Then, there are the ad-hoc ‘productivity’ solutions which users or departments within the business have deployed, such as slack and Dropbox.  

In isolation, these solutions work perfectly well but here's the problem. They're not connected. Future thinking companies promote a culture of collaboration, encouraging the sharing of information and insights across users and departments. Siloed data makes a business hugely inefficient, resulting in lost opportunities and ultimately lost revenue. 

So why not integrate the existing solutions?

Software houses and suppliers of single-point solutions may rightly point out that their software has APIs and integration capability. Tread carefully. Integrations can quickly become significant and expensive technology projects in their own right and are rarely straightforward. Integration projects require careful planning, resources and buy-in from all parties. Too often when they go wrong, the business is caught between 2 or more software vendors, each pointing the finger at one another.

Still using on-premises solutions?

In 2018, is it credible for vendors to sell on-premises solutions and not offer a cloud alternative? I don’t believe so. Software houses who have not moved to the cloud or lack a clear cloud strategy are quickly becoming irrelevant. There is a significant overhead in managing on-premises software and data, not to mention supporting in-house infrastructure. The break/fix nature of on-premises software is equally unattractive. Cloud solutions don’t have the same footprint across your infrastructure and with most enterprise cloud operators guaranteeing an uptime of over 99%, reliability is no longer a concern. Even the most skeptical, security conscious IT professionals concede that cloud is the future. The investment to date has been too significant by the largest global software companies. There is no going back. In fact, these software giants are incentivising businesses of all sizes to move to the cloud. Moreover, they are moving and in large numbers.

The Opportunity

Your business strategy must focus on platform-based solutions. Platform solutions are the future. Platforms which deliver collaborative, connected, cloud-based and scalable solutions across the entire business. Enabling your sales team to access relevant financial data, enabling your marketing team to send leads to sales and in turn enabling sales to seamlessly liaise with operations or legal. A truly connected business. A smart business. In Part 2 of this post, I outline the benefits of platforms and why they must form part of your business strategy.