Does Embracing an Enterprise-Class Business Applications “Ecosystem” Matter?

 Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Real-time interoperability of systems are increasingly more important to today’s massive, global and rapidly growing corporations. Technology to find business intelligence out of oceans of collected data has generated new, hot and fast growing IT sectors like BIG data analytics. However getting huge amounts of collected data to interoperate and play nice to generate significant value requires significant effort.

One way to approach the problem is to realize that at the heart of large scale enterprise-wide systems there must be a solid and robust strategy for integrating all these data producing systems. A quick search of such companies generated a list of over 100 firms performing software integration. According to Forrester (2014) the recognized market leaders for Cloud capable offerings are companies like: Bosch Software Innovations, Dell Boomi, IBM, Informatica, Liaison, Microsoft, MuleSoft, Red Hat, Seeburger, Software AG, Talend, Tibco Software and WSO2.

Anyone who has tackled large scale integration issues knows that while robustly connecting the parts is fundamental to robustly passing data, what is also very important is making what’s sent between sender-receiver as close a contextual match as possible. It’s obvious, when data coming and going from two systems for the same records looks alike then data interoperability works better. Duh!

So here simplistically are the two major ways of performing:

Best-of-Breed Approach: Where the strategy is to pick the best functional parts (software), typically from different vendors, and work harder at making them work together the way you want in an overall system. The integration platform underlying all the interoperability becomes paramount to this strategy. And usually there is plenty of IT work to make them work the way you want – not the just the fixed way they offer out-of-the-box.

Integrated Suite Approach: Where the individual parts are usually not as good as “best-of-breed” but all the sub-systems parts (software) were designed somewhat with the other parts in mind and therefore work together better as part of an overall system. An “Ecosystem” is simply this approach taken to next level where platform wide specifications, de-facto ways of sharing data, service support, etc., are available that allows anyone wanting to participate to provide software that works better with the other parts that are committed to the ecosystem.

Very large companies have very large systems that need to interoperate well to benefit from their scale. Their class of problem requires more of a macro view especially to be more effective system wide. If their requirements match what’s available in the basic business applications provided in an ecosystem then they benefit from everything just working together better (think Apple). If the companies must have some strategic, advanced capabilities that simply don’t come as part of a suite, not available in the ecosystem them almost by default they are in the best-of-breed approach camp.

Provade is in the business of Vendor Management Systems which addresses the needs of managing contingent labor. Few companies outside of staffing companies view managing such labor as a core strategic business operation – a simple business reality. They certainly want excellent performance in VMS but companies don’t usually prioritize it ahead of all else. Therefore that suggests that when facing such a trade-off making VMS work with other business applications well and easily is of higher importance than acquiring advanced features that may cause additional significant integration issues.

Since its inception Provade has understood this trade-off. Through supplying the #1 Enterprise Software company Oracle and its partners and clients with VMS we get to see the benefits of those that need many software parts to simply work closely together better. Companies progressing towards the latest Cloud IT paradigm shift are looking for many re-usable services - clouds of clouds. They want VMS functions such as supplier engagement and management to be extensions of their core Human Capital or Total Talent Management while at the same time being part of their core ERP or Procurement and Payments systems. We believe the time has come (as result of the new cloud digitalization shift) that VMS functionality be part of other more strategically central systems all belonging to a much larger cloud “ecosystem” of enterprise software - away from the stand alone monolithic VMS application of today’s design that constantly requires active (aka IT maintenance expensive) integration consideration.

 

About Author

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Author Hans Bukow

Hans Bukow is President of Provade Inc