Sunday, January 30, 2011

When CRM products dont fit, platforms are the way to go

Some verticals like manufacturing are blessed to have products that fit their business processes to a high degree, and Enterprise Application products make a lot of sense for them. Similarly a standard CRM or Financial applications make sense for smaller companies since business processes are common across organizations. One can leverage the best practices,economies of scale as well as ruggedization that products have undergone and gain from it.

However, if you are in a vertical where its rare to find products that fits your business, or worse still if you are in a business where the operational processes keep changing, products can be dangerous for your business. Its common knowledge that if product fitment levels are low then you should avoid customizing the product since it can break down the architecture and become incredibly expensive to maintain.

But what are the options in front of such organizations? Custom solutions take too long. The answer lies in platform based solutions. In the past three to four years a number of scalable and rapid development platforms have appeared in the market. These allow organizations to quickly mash smaller applications meant for fulfilling a localized need. has been succesful in providing good extensions to Longjump and Coghead are some other companies. These products would come under the category of PaaS.

Are these platforms good for mainstream applications on which enterprises run? The answer is yes, but one would need a Mainstream Platform as a Service (MPaaS - a term I coined for this) provider to do this. An MPaaS solution has a mainstream product, as well as a very rapid application development environment to enable customers leverage the core product for the backbone areas like CRM or financials and the platform to deliver the unique processes that are operationally dynamic. While numerous vendors will promise to do this, the ones that can be truly classified as MPaaS are ones who

Have already delivered ERP class products to a market using the platform
Can deliver rugged and power packed modules as extensions in short timeframes
Can offer unique methodologies where customers can see what they are going to get for the unique processes very early in the development cycle.
Can build massive applications that span the Enterprise in short timeframes

At KServe ( we continue to focus on Mainstream PaaS. The link below points to a case study of a construction company that leveraged this approach when their product approach did not work out. An end to end solution was delivered this company for their operations in a years time.

We have also fine tuned a methodology to delivery such solutions to customers - and this link gives more details about its success.

In my next blog I will expand on the methodology and how it can revolutionize the way software is delivered worldwide.

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