4. July 2023

Effortless automation: an integrated platform vs multiple point solutions

Point vs Platform Solutions

Delivering best-in-class technology in a unified ecosystem

It’s an all-too-common pattern of digital transformation: your business has a need, so you identify and implement technology to address that need. The new solution delivers instant impact and value for your business, rewarding your investment with short-term ROI.

Over time, new technologies are identified to address business challenges and harness new capabilities. In each case, you identify and adopt the solution that solves these particular problems, reaping the rewards of strong ROI.

Given the gradual cost of innovation and the immediate impact it offers, this decentralised approach offers obvious short-term appeal. However, if a strategic approach isn’t adopted, organisations can be left with a ‘spaghetti mess’ of unconnected and siloed point solutions. 

It often takes years before businesses realise the long-term cost of this approach: since systems were transformed one solution at a time, an organisation’s larger IT infrastructure is often plagued by poor solution integrations resulting in data sharing gaps, resource management inefficiencies, security concerns and other limitations that drag down productivity and performance.

According to a report from Okta, the average large organisation deploys 175 enterprise applications per customer. When these applications aren’t strategically integrated into your infrastructure, the scale of this technology can become a source of friction and waste, increasing your operating costs while impacting your customer experience.

This outcome can be avoided by adopting a more strategic, integrated approach to digital transformation and automation.

Choosing the best path: point versus platform

When planning an IT infrastructure, business leaders are broadly facing two distinct options: either they invest in an infrastructure that integrates multiple point solutions in a system geared toward performance and configurable design, or they can opt for a platform approach that connects the entire environment and prioritises a holistic digital ecosystem while accepting more rigidity in its design.

The implications of these differing paths are important. Here are five key considerations to keep in mind when choosing your approach.

1. Data Sharing

Platform-based solutions generally improve data sharing by breaking down data silos and centralising content. This makes it easier for separate business units to collaborate more effectively and harness the full value of your internal data. Better data governance is also facilitated through a platform solution.

If data doesn’t need to be shared across functions within your infrastructure, a point solution approach may suffice. Where data sharing is required, bespoke integrations can help facilitate data flows between departments, however, these integrations will require investment to build and maintain.

2. Automation Capabilities

For standalone automation projects, a point solution might have all the capabilities you need while offering a quick, efficient path to driving ROI. This can allow ‘quick wins’ and a speedier deployment.

If, over time, you’re considering other automations across your organisation, then a modular platform can enable expanded capabilities as your automation projects increase. Modular platforms facilitate new automations at a low marginal cost and effort by harnessing pre-built components.

3. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Point solutions are often attractive to businesses because they offer a lower individual TCO, especially in the short term. Over time, though, these costs can add up as there are no economies of scale to be enjoyed. The resource cost of a point solution approach will continue to increase as existing technologies age and new technologies enter your environment. 

A more cost-effective and performance-focused alternative is to work with a solution partner that can build a fully integrated, scalable platform to easily support these various solutions. The up-front investment is typically higher, but the long-term TCO tends to be lower—particularly since governance and oversight of multiple disparate systems can be so resource-intensive for your IT experts.

4. Solution Performance

There’s a compromise that must be considered between an ecosystem of high-performance but disparate point solutions versus a platform solution that is scalable but that might lack some specialised functional features.

A perceived benefit of adopting individual point solutions is that businesses can invest in specialist solutions, prioritising immediate performance and impact. While solution performance should be a top consideration, a narrow departmental understanding of performance often overlooks the role of data sharing and collaboration in maximising value creation across the entire IT infrastructure.

If opting for a platform solution, organisations must be careful not to choose a platform built with a rigid “one-size-fits-all” design. This will limit your options for future digital transformation and even create short-term constraints affecting business performance.

5. Futureproofing

While individual point solutions represent a simpler digital transformation project, they can create greater complexity when maintaining and securing your IT environment.

As systems become outdated, security vulnerabilities inevitably develop, increasing the likelihood of a security breach. Ransomware attacks or data breaches often exploit SaaS applications, and the more point solutions you have, the higher the potential risk.

Handling multiple solutions also means more time and effort spent on maintaining and upgrading those systems, putting a strain on your organisation and slowing down innovation. Integrating an agile and unified system helps your business to adapt to future business needs and challenges.

It’s crucial to consider the long-term implications of these different approaches, as the short-term benefits of a point-solution strategy can eventually transform into liabilities.

Four tips for creating a unified solutions platform

When you identify the best-fit solution to a business problem, it’s hard to accept an inferior alternative—even when allowing for the benefits of a platform-based approach. 

We get it. As an experienced solutions integrator, we’re in the business of helping organisations implement technologies that make the most sense for their needs. Through our partnerships with Hyland, ABBYY, Docuware and other world-class technology partners, we create unified platforms that harness high-performance solutions and configure them to your organisation’s specific needs. 

This unified approach gives you the best of both worlds: technology that delivers an immediate impact and accelerates short-term time to value while also reducing overall IT costs, improving long-term solutions performance, and maintaining the flexibility to innovate as your needs evolve.

Here are four tips we recommend when building a unified digital ecosystem:

  1. Involve users in design from the beginning: Both IT and business unit stakeholders should be involved from the outset when designing your unified solution. Choose people who will engage with the new system on a day-to-day basis in order to get full buy-in. Compromise might be needed between customisation and performance.
  2. Address data migration issues: Spend time considering the implications of migrating data from disparate legacy systems to a new unified platform. Transferring unstructured data held in various locations is not straightforward. Identify potential challenges such as data quality, format compatibility, and security ahead of the migration process.
  3. Ensure scalability and flexibility: Solutions should be scalable and flexible to accommodate future growth and evolving business needs. Consider scalability requirements, such as number of users, data volume and system performance. Choose a platform that allows for easy integration with other systems, as well as customisation and configuration options, to adapt to changing business requirements.
  4. Provide comprehensive training and support: Implementing a new IT solution often requires users to learn new processes and tools. It’s important to offer comprehensive training programs and resources to help users understand the platform's features and functionalities. This will enhance user adoption and ensure a smooth transition to the unified platform.

Build for today, plan for the future

Intelligent automation and other innovative technologies are designed to make things easy for your business. We strive for simplicity in all our solutions, recognizing that it serves as the foundation of your digital infrastructure.

Managing an ecosystem of disparate technologies can place a considerable strain on a company's resources, while relying on a one-size-fits-all platform can impede business performance by forcing you to operate with limited capabilities and a rigid technology infrastructure.

There’s no perfect choice—but when you work with Inpute, you don’t have to choose. We’ll build the system that works best for you.

At Inpute, we believe automation should be effortless. As a partner in delivering intelligent automation, we create tailored solutions that fit perfectly into your existing systems while expanding your ability to automate business processes. Our harmonised approach allows your people to operate at the edge of their capabilities. Get in touch today to learn more.

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