In a previous blog post, we suggested creating a strong ‘build and respond’ capability as an essential foundation to becoming more agile and competitive in the new digital economy.
Historically, IT vendors have developed proprietary solutions that are licensed or delivered to clients, with varying degrees of customisation (depending on the business need).
Aside from any customisations, further enhancements to the solution could only be developed by the vendor – leaving the organisation at the mercy of the vendor’s product roadmaps, licensing conditions, and pricing strategies.
It’s a trap that we now commonly refer to as ‘vendor lock-in’. In reality, lock-in can come in many forms: operating system lock-in, architecture lock-in, multi-year contract lock-in, and skills lock-in.
Having sunk large investments into a vendor’s technology stack, and integrated it into one’s IT operations, it often becomes difficult to change your business in response to new market threats and opportunities.
By developing an in-house digital capability, and leveraging Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings that are based on open standard architectures, the organisation can insulate itself from a vendor’s technology roadmap – and free itself from lock-in.
Taking an open standards, vendor-agnostic approach to one’s IT estate reduces the complexity of maintaining back-end architecture. The value of existing legacy infrastructure can be leveraged, but without having to pour more money into proprietary vendor packages and services.
This allows leaders to focus more on business strategy and the delivery of excellent customer experiences (and less on server-side infrastructure). In terms of client-side architecture, the right PaaS offerings also ensures that there is no compromise or sacrifice on excellent user experiences or design eloquence.
The biggest advantage of this is the ease at which strategic intent can translate into the actual delivery of digital services. A useful, beautifully-designed mobile app can breathe life into a business’ strategy and even become the catalyst for sweeping digital transformation.
Avoiding similar mistakes
Choosing the right open-standards platform is critical to achieving freedom from vendor lock-in. There are three common mistakes that organisations make when selecting their PaaS:
- Choosing a platform that does not offer full software stack support: To unlock the value in every aspect of your back-end architecture, the platform must be fully open, extensible, and integrable at any level.
- Using development and delivery environments that are themselves proprietary in nature: This simply creates another layer of locked-in, legacy infrastructure, and does not give the organisation the flexibility to build new services. Proprietary PaaS and framework offerings increase the complexity of integrating; while open-standards solutions accelerate and simplify the integration effort dramatically.
- Choosing platforms that do not offer rapid speeds of change: To enhance digital services regularly and achieve faster customer engagement (across all channels), it’s essential to use a platform that offers rapid and continuous delivery.
An open-standards approach – combined with a strong ‘build’ capability – means firms can modernise their legacy infrastructure, unlock their full software stack, and gain full control over the future of their technology assets.
This sets the foundation to reap the benefits of converging trends – like Cloud computing, mobility, the consumerization of IT, Big Data, social media, intelligent process automation, and the Internet of Things.
Most importantly, this sets the scene for putting the customer at the heart of everything you do.