In an ideal world, organisations would opt for bespoke software every time. Bespoke products can be designed to work seamlessly with the existing infrastructure. Unfortunately, it is expensive and time-consuming to develop.
Yet packaged solutions do not fit the business and can be difficult to swap out or change. Operational processes typically have to be changed to fit the software, and users may need constant additional training to move between different products.
Every time a new product is required, the organisation ends up with another set of underlying technologies and a complex, expensive integration challenge. This is without the additional costs associated with managing multiple vendor relationships.
The return on investment from either bespoke or packaged software can be disappointing while the business is struggling to achieve its strategic innovation objectives.
Nirvana, of course, would be a packaged app that could be customised quickly without compromising the ongoing upgrade path, delivering the exact functionality needed without the price tag of bespoke development.
Application platforms are designed to accelerate the development of relational business applications.
The speed of development is achieved through the use of reusable application services which can be adapted and extended to create many different applications. Sometimes they harness common, standard technology building blocks already in use.
With a multi-tenanted architecture, organisations can build and run many applications on a single platform. This creates a coherent IT infrastructure and a consistent application feel that minimises the training overhead.
You can build on the underlying relational database easily, with point-and-click development tools. Key concepts such as database fields, data relationships and workflow may be handled automatically by the underlying application layer.
I believe an organisation using application platforms can create a new solution from scratch in the same time frame it takes to deploy a traditional packaged application.
Haseet Sanghrajka is managing director at ST Consulting
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