Enterprise Platforms vs. Point Solutions: it’s obvious, isn’t it?

Ground-level view of a chessboard with all pawns lined up and a singular brown pawn wearing a crown | Enterprise vs point solutions

“IT leaders are no longer the only ones making technology choices, deploying them, and telling organizations that this is as good as it gets. Nowadays, every executive, manager and employee knows better – even their mobile apps are more sophisticated than the applications they use at work.”

After hearing this comment in a client meeting, it certainly raised alarm-bells and had me pondering on the future of technological innovation in our industry. It probably raised the hackles of any CIO who happened to walk by, too. The cloud has made treasury, consolidation and other point solutions easier and faster than ever to purchase, implement, and use. And from this perspective, lines of business consider point solutions as a more-targeted and efficient approach to delivering the capabilities their organizations need to succeed.

Unfortunately, this practice also adds risk, complexity and cost to the entire digital landscape – and company. Even if one department gains immediate value, a point solution can result in cost-prohibitive and resource-intensive implications downstream – including unexpected maintenance costs, data privacy and security issues, integration incompatibility, inextensibility and noncompliance.

But CIOs can turn this situation around. All they need to do is rethink their company’s enterprise platform — newer technologies allow ERP systems to be more agile and adaptive in ways unheard of in the past.

The enterprise platform is everything

When weighing options between purchasing a new point solution or staying with an enterprise platform, the enterprise platform universally wins among CIOs when it’s in the cloud.

When CIOs leave behind the past of enterprise platforms integrated with legacy software solutions, they can eliminate traditionally clunky and difficult-to-use experiences. With in-memory computing functionality, adding new capabilities to an existing cloud-based deployment is faster and easier.

For instance, finance organizations can turn on a new treasury functionality today and adopt advanced financial planning and analysis tools the next day – all from the same platform and without IT intervention. This experience is called a modular approach. Organizations can purchase and deploy new capabilities at a minimal cost without adding risk to the rest of the enterprise’s IT architecture and financial health.

More importantly, cloud-based platforms give CIOs and organizational managers the ability to work directly with the software vendor. This closer relationship allows the manager to define and extend forthcoming capabilities that can help shape the future of their business.

Departments looking to support their company’s goal of becoming a sustainable enterprise are prime examples of this advantage. They are innovating applications that provide visibility into all vital information for fine-tuning strategies and reporting performance all from one place. In return, their leadership and workforce can confidently deliver outcomes together – making a difference for the business, as well as the entire planet.

There is a difference – and it matters

Don’t be mistaken, lines of business that augment their digital toolbox with point solutions are not evil. They’re just trying to get their jobs done in ways that lead to business success. Yet, those decisions compel CIOs to ask what users want and how to deliver them quickly with existing technology without negatively impacting neighboring business areas.

From a CIO’s perspective, business transformation culminates in four fundamental stages:

First, is harnessing data and divining real-time insights into running operations. The second stage involves applying intelligent automation through a unified platform to increase process cost efficiency and compliance. The third step of the transformation is delivering predictive, real-time and backward-looking insights through advanced analytics and user experiences to better shape the future of the business. Finally, the increased intelligence and data gathering can be used to innovate with new business models, processes, products and services as requirements may evolve.

It’s also well-understood that one enterprise platform could never have 100 percent of the digital capabilities a company demands at all times. Market dynamics, compliance regulations, customer expectations and business requirements are continuously evolving – sometimes faster than the pace of technological advancement and business readiness.

Yet, adopting a point solution with functionality that’s needed today is not always the correct answer, despite feeling like the fastest.

Organizations should instead innovate new capabilities in existing applications. This can all be done while still connected with the enterprise platform, and extends the benefits of the upgrades across multiple business units. They can accomplish this task in an environment that supports a consistent, intuitive and efficient user experience. An integrated view of historical, near real-time data and fundamental enhancements to core processes are key to the new processes.

Business and technology, hand-in-hand

Despite appearing as quick and easy resolutions to current issues, point solutions are adding process inefficiencies in exchange for immediate gains in operational speed – even when automating manual steps.

The underlying reason is simple: point solutions are not typically chosen and deployed with the end of the business transformation journey in mind. They’re more like stop-gaps, a reaction to an issue rather than working towards a solution to prevent the problem from reappearing. Lines of business are more focused on figuring out the fastest way to establish immediate changes with new technologies, such as predictive intelligence, AI and in-memory databases.

So take a step back from your daily challenges and look at the enterprise platform you have in place today. Does it allow you to extend your capabilities, truly innovate your business processes, and take your organization to a future of competitiveness in new markets and sustained growth?

When it comes to innovating and growing your business or organization, you need to keep ahead of the curve to stay afloat. Rather than being reactionary with point solutions, take a proactive attitude and implement the changes needed to accelerate your efforts to success. Point solutions will give you the quick win, but will always add unnecessary complexity and risk compromising your technology landscape.

There’s a reason the rise of Enterprise platforms have been heralded as the fourth industrial revolution. Look into your options and see where you can make changes into your business.