Anyone with even a passing interest in enterprise IT has probably encountered the term "platform" recently. But despite the ubiquity of the term, it's often misunderstood. And as a result of that confusion, it's possible to make disastrous decisions in terms of technology. Use this quick overview to get up to speed.
A platform can refer to an interface that connects users, resources, and tools through fewer individual touchpoints. But to understand this concept it’s a lot easier to look at an example. Airbnb is a platform that connects renters, property-owners, and vast numbers of listings all in one location. Plus, it handles everything from research to payment using one set of tools.
The purpose of a platform is two-fold. First, it integrates and standardizes data. Second, it locates that data someplace that can scale upward easily. The goal is to create a tool that is useful for a larger number of users completing a wider range of workflows.
The proliferation of platforms is a response to the huge amount of data companies now deal with. When this data is locked away in various silos it become inaccessible, out-of-date, and irrelevant. But when it can be consolidated onto one platform, it’s constantly being updated, analyzed, and accessed by all. That turns data into a dynamic asset poised to serve strategic objectives.
Platforms promise to streamline operations, cut costs, relieve stress, and minimize errors. But where they really have value is in their ability to accelerate growth. Platforms facilitate communication and collaboration in a way that leads directly to innovation and acceleration. By synchronizing the efforts of all, they maximize the efforts of each.
When it comes to business software, there is a distinct difference between a platform and a software suite even though they promise similar things. A platform is a functional solution that is able to scale and integrate with ease. It can be made up of any number of best-in-class technologies that integrate with one another. A software suite is often a patchwork of products acquired or developed and integrated by one vendor. They promise to be comprehensive but often offer functionality that is mile wide and an inch deep.
Business are vertical by nature - they have requirements unique to the specific industry they go to market in. This means that the operational software an HVAC repair company needs to schedule jobs and run their business is very different from the CRM system a software company would use to manage their customer base and sales orders. These businesses should be able to choose the best tool for each job, connect them in the cloud, and create a platform that shares data across all their systems. Buying a suite simply provides one point of contact (or as some call it, one throat to choke), but forces companies from very different industries to use the same tools even if they aren't all the best fit.
As you search for an enterprise IT solution, be sure to look at a platform like Sage Intacct and it's ecosystem of marketplace applications. Interoperability is never an issue, and the features and functions are richer because of it. When you're ready to explore this platform in-depth, request a consultation.