In the enterprise software world, there is a long-standing argument about whether best of breed point solutions or all-in-one ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) suites are the superior choice. Best of breed systems are stand-alone solutions that solve a specific business requirement, like CRM or Accounting, whereas ERP suites sell one package with different modules for a variety of business needs.
While each firm will have to determine which type of software meets their organization’s unique requirements, cloud computing seems to be tipping the balance toward robust, best of breed solutions. Stand-alone point solutions are called “best of breed” because they have to offer superior functionality to compete with all-in-one suites. If the functionality were comparable, ERP suites would dominate the market. ERP systems tend to do one or two things well, but they rarely manage to offer top of the line services across all of their different modules. Organizations tolerated the limitations of these software suites in the past because integrating different best of breed solutions used to be complicated and expensive. However, savvy best of breed software providers now offer pre-built connections to leading solutions and even partner with other point solution vendors for different business needs. Cloud computing is making these integrations even smoother. As the Wall Street Journal noted earlier this year,
“Cloud computing has made it financially and operationally viable for a company to pick the world’s best application for every need, every user, and every business case. Companies no longer have to sacrifice functionality for the sake of integration...The cloud, with its open, flexible SOA-based application architecture means that integration is far easier and cheaper to manage today. This dramatically weakens the primary – and in some cases only – reason that customers were buying applications from the suite vendors.”
This analysis has proven true to our experience. We’ve been offering a cloud-based solution since before “cloud computing” was a buzzword. Cosential CEO, Dan Cornish, has written about that before. So we’ve been competing successfully against monolithic ERP suites for some time. By offering seamless integrations with popular accounting, lead generation, email, and publishing systems, we’ve been able to undermine the major argument for suite competitors whose only advantage was easy integration.
When you set out to buy enterprise software, weigh your firm’s needs against the strengths of the solutions you’re considering and make a strategic choice. Just don't let anyone tell you to buy ERP software in a suite because you can't integrate best of breed solutions. You can. And you'll probably get a more robust system.
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