Every organization is unique. But when you look under the hood, much of the essential business software powering organizations today falls into the same basic categories. Regardless of industry sector, every enterprise organization uses a back-end payment solution, CRM and ERP systems, data and analytics capabilities and web interfaces and mobile applications.
Companies such as Salesforce and Oracle have expanded their business software suites over the years. But most organizations use a collection of applications from various suppliers.
When you need a car, you don’t buy the brakes, chassis and engine as piece parts. You place a single order, and the supplier provides you with a turnkey vehicle. Imagine how much time and money you’d have to invest if you had to get the various car parts from different suppliers and put them together yourself. Yet that’s exactly how business application software works today.
Nobody in the business application software market has put everything that organizations require into a single package. But that’s what the market needs and where I believe things are headed. Enterprise-as-a-service will enable businesses to check all the boxes and get all of the software they need to provision their organizations. I estimate that enterprise-as-a-service will enable organizations to cut down their speed-to-market and reduce their setup costs signficantly. But to realize this vision, organizations will have to find an effective way to migrate their existing workloads — including data — into new enterprise-as-a-service offerings.
Don’t Reinvent The Wheel
Businesses used to create their software systems using in-house resources. Some still do that. But building from scratch means you need to have — or get — the requisite talent and expertise. That is expensive, and it’s challenging, especially if your business is outside of Silicon Valley.
Avoid building software solutions yourself. Instead, use solutions that are already available.
We’re taking this advice ourselves. A local government customer recently asked us for help in building a fraud prevention system. The typical approach would be to identify requirements and decide how many people would support the effort. There might be 10, 30 or 50 people involved. Then we would provide a five-year roadmap for the new system creation and implementation.
What we did instead was a bit of research. We quickly discovered that a company had an existing service that fits the bill for our government customer. Now all we need to do is integrate with that service, greatly cutting down our customer’s speed to market.
Understand that if you’re in need of business software, chances are good that somebody has already built it. Save yourself the time and trouble of reinventing the wheel. Focus on integration and creating your own unique IP rather than recreating what already exists.
Consider a Packaged Solution
The example I just described is aimed at government entities. But various tech companies are also offering solutions for specific private sectors.
For example, ServiceNow recently introduced workflow automation solutions designed specifically for the banking and telecommunications verticals. The software company is working closely with Accenture and Deloitte to deliver these targeted solutions.
Leverage the Richness of the Cloud
Chances are good that your project also could benefit from capabilities available via cloud providers. If you’re in need of data and cognitive services, for example, consider using offerings from AWS and Microsoft Azure. Employ their services to expedite your speed-to-market.
Understand that these services have some built-in security and compliance features. That means you don’t need to add controls on top of them to comply with regulations such as HIPAA and PCI. The third-party provider has already taken care of that compliance for you. Again, this allows your organization to dedicate more time and focus on its unique value proposition.
Challenge Your Suppliers To Provide Migration Accelerators
You may be able to benefit from new software-based solutions. But you probably also want to use at least some of what you already have. The question is: How do you extract operational intelligence from the existing systems that you have built and invested in for the last 40 years?
Most implementations are brownfield efforts, so integration is going to be key. Yet some of the leading names in technology have not figured out how to do brownfield implementations with their newer solutions. This means you may need an army of people to do that integration.
To avoid that costly task — and accelerate your speed to market — push suppliers to deliver migration accelerators. That will enable you to move more easily from your vendors’ current, on-premises legacy systems to the new services-based capabilities your suppliers now offer.
Have a clear brownfield implementation strategy. Make sure that strategy includes how you are going to successfully migrate workloads. Data migration is the biggest barrier to leveraging existing operational intelligence, such as documentation. You don’t want to have to rely exclusively on the operational intelligence that lives in your employees’ brains.
Be Ready For Anything
The Covid-19 pandemic adversely impacted a lot of companies that had a vision, but did not accelerate or implement that vision. Companies that were agile found it much easier to adjust.
Chipotle is an example of the latter. The restaurant invested in digital capabilities prior to Covid-19. It was able to offer services via digital channels, and its revenues were not adversely impacted by Covid-19. In fact, its online sales more than tripled amid the pandemic.
But wherever you are in the digital adoption curve, embrace the enterprise-as-a-service vision and understand the importance of ease of integration and data migration. You will find that moving in this direction is far more cost- and time-efficient than building business applications from scratch, wasting millions of dollars, increasing your risk and slowing your go to market.
You need to be ready for anything.
This blog was originally published on Forbes.com. Link.