AccentureÂ recently published theirÂ Technology Vision 2016.Â I applaud AccentureÂ for maintaining a summary of their â€śTech Visionâ€ť from 2015 and 2014 in this publication. It is rare that a forward looking report looks back at past predictions. Perhaps they did it because they were pretty much spot on.Â
I am particularly interested to see where 2016’s Trend 3, theÂ Platform Economy, is headed and if it could become the answer to â€śupgradeâ€ť challenges that inevitably come with enterprise software investments.Â Â
Before packaged enterprise software, a.k.a. Out-of-the-Box software, business process automation projects were driven by bottom-up requirements feeding into aÂ software development effort. The business received what they wanted but often at an extreme cost, not easily justifiableÂ for theÂ masses. As the custom system aged, experiencedÂ developers became expensive and hard to find. I have personally heard CIOs claim that they were being held ransom by these developers.Â
CIO Pain: â€śMy legacy system developers are holding me ransomâ€ť
Packaged software evolved to reduce total cost of ownership with the promise that updates and maintenance would be provided by the OEM, eliminating this â€śpainâ€ť of being held ransom. As long as you followed the OEMâ€™s best practice, the value proposition would be significant.
“If you need it faster, you can customize”
The ugly side of packaged software was that it was designed to support the OEMâ€™s point of view for standard business processes with functionality to fill gaps generally coming over time through upgrades. The OEMâ€™s standards were unable to take into account the customerâ€™s need to maintain differentiation, remain operable (integrated) with legacy systems, and close gaps ahead of the OEMâ€™s development timeline. Therefore, customization was inevitable and ultimately created a compatibility issue with future upgrades. It was not uncommon to see upgrade costs exceedÂ the cost of the initial implementation resulting in upgrades being delayed and the software eventually becoming obsolete.Â Â
CIO Pain: â€śI am fighting a software obsolescence battle because I cannot justify the cost to upgrade customized packaged softwareâ€ť
Could a platform, designed to be customized, be the â€śGoldilocksâ€ť solution? Cost effective, inter-operable, and differentiated, a.k.aÂ “Just Right”. By leveraging a platform for the core of the application that is common, and building uniquely the components that support proprietary business processes or a unique brand experience in the form of modular apps that plug into standard interfaces, an end solution can be created that is both cost effective and differentiated.Â
You are now asking if the bottleneck will simply shift to the Platform OEM and their ability to support and innovate
A platform that leveragesÂ Open Source SoftwareÂ and the idea of modular apps (seeÂ Accentureâ€™s 2014 Tech predictions) has the promise to keep total cost of ownership manageable by offering options for development and support. Open Source ensures a large pool of developers will be available to support the end solution coupled with providers such asÂ Red Hat,Â Hortonworks, andÂ ClouderaÂ available forÂ commercial technical support.Â Perhaps an answer.Â
We, atÂ Bridgera LLC, have fully embraced the platform economy with Open Source enabled Big Data and IoT applications. We start client engagements with a platform providing a standard foundation that eliminates much of the time and expense associated with the 80% that is the same for every deployment. The platform allows us and the client to focus on the 20% that is truly proprietary, or brand specific, protecting their competitive advantage through this automation.Â
I am always happy to provide more information about Bridgera solutions but more importantly I am interested in your thoughts.Â
Could platform software overtake packaged software as the preferred approach to business process automation within an enterprise? Do you see the line between packaged software and platforms eventually blurring to a point where this â€śSoftware Thingâ€ť is usable Out-of-the-Box (or more likely Out-of-the-Cloud) but is so flexible that customization and extensions are not impacted by upgrades? Could Open Source be a catalyst to reduce the support costs? Â We would love to hearÂ your opinions and ideas.
About the Author:Â Ron PascuzziÂ currently leads the sales and marketing efforts atÂ Bridgera, LLCÂ in Raleigh, NC. Bridgera provides open source software enabledÂ Big Data and IoT applicationsÂ in combination with custom built modular apps to equip our clients with cost effective maintainable solutions to keep them competitive in the digital age.Â