2 Key Questions To Ask When Deciding Between Platform or App

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We are in an era of agility and digitalisation. Business leaders are embracing agility in their thinking which will allow organisations to adapt to the current challenges. Senior business leaders are now willing more than ever to sponsor various initiatives or projects to enhance technical capabilities across the organisation. The fundamental questions that a sponsor would generally look for are

  1. What problem are we solving?
  2. What is the solution?
  3. What are the direct (cost-saving) and in-direct (efficiency) benefits?
  4. What is the time to market (with speed to market mindset)?

There are 2 key questions (2 & 4) for which a decision made would make or break the success of the project.

Solution and Time to Market

The fundamental approach to come up with a solution is to look for a product which is already available in the market that will resolve the problem. Business leads will generally fall into the trap by looking into the following factors while choosing an application

– the cheapest solution

– easy to implement

– fix the current problem and

– takes less time to implement.

This works quite well at a point in time where the problem is unbearable and needs fixing, But does this really fix the problem or does it become a real pain at some point in the near future? Let us have a look at the journey this will take us to.

Application Journey

So we have found the right application to fix a specific problem. The Current problem is solved and that is a relief. Let us keep finding the solution for each of the problem by getting a new application. As soon as the applications starts to grow from 1 to 2 and so forth, there are other factors that would need looking into such as Integration and Reporting. Okay, we have not thought about this before, not a problem we can integrate with API’s. Oh they both don’t use the same technology one of them uses web service and other uses Restful API. Let us start working on some integration project and we can make this work.

This approach will increase the footprint of the application portfolio tremendously and so is the complexity of Integration. Our ecosystem has now become more complex than ever before. Let us assume so far all of the applications we have looked into are for various capabilities of customer relationship management.

The CRM ecosystem split into apps

As you can see in the CRM ecosystem above going through the list of systems we have seen at least 25 applications. So far we have only seen the ecosystem mapped from business capabilities to applications. Now mapping out all of the system integrations around this ecosystem will be more of a mammoth of the job if this has not been continuously kept up to date. So the outcome will be something like this (ref : published by Mulesoft)

Apps Integration Map

All of these 25 applications were onboarded over a period of time as when either organisation is trying to expand or trying to fix a specific problem. Throughout the journey onboarding an application might have been much easier as “Time to Market” would have been between 1 to 3 months in the beginning, but would have drastically increased to 6 to 24 months.

Outcome of this Journey

  • Cost: overall become much costlier to continue
  • Upgrade: Unable to upgrade due to compatibility issues and some of the applications crossed end of life
  • Sponsorship: Not fit for purpose, multiple investments, Siloed

Platform Journey

We have seen how the application journey has become from a short-term gain to long-term pain. Business alignment within the organisation is key to avoid such misery. As shown in above example instead of each business area coming up with a list of projects with a specific solution, all business units should work as a team in order to understand the vision and goals for their specific areas. Generally, there will be a crossover between the business areas so, first map out the high-level business capabilities that you would need overall for each of the business areas.

CRM split into Business Processes

Now that you have identified the list of business capabilities required for Customer Relationship Management, the next step is to understand detailed processes and requirements pertaining to each of the capability. Sponsorship has now changed the viewpoint to be looking at a high-level capability called “Customer Relationship Management”, not just a specific business area, not just a single capability within a business area. Most importantly a specific solution should not be looked at this state until complete due diligence is completed.

“Platform” should be the principle in mind while evaluating a solution. This does not mean to go to the other end of the spectrum for having a single platform which will solve everything. This will look like this

CRM Platform breakdown


In essence, we have achieved our goal, but since we have tried to fit one platform for everything we have now got a combination of configuration and customisation. Not as much of a big problem as before but still there are other issues more be spoking, upgrade and maintenance not straight forward, most costly to keep up-to-speed etc.

“Best of Breed” solution with “Platform” as a principle should be the way to go. Always find the best platform that mostly suits your requirements, may not be in its entirety. Sometimes this can be multiple platforms as along as there isn’t customisation involved and platforms can integrate with each other. So the final outcome could be something like

CRM Balanced approach between platform and app

Outcome of this Journey

  • Cost: overall should be cost-effective
  • Upgrade: Upgrade(s) can be planned as part of yearly maintenance enable the software to be always up-to-date
  • Sponsorship: Holistic View, Overall Investment, Collaborative Approach

At ACS we always follow platform principle while providing solutions to businesses. Complete the form and you can receive a FREE no obligation consultation. we will offer as much advice as we can.

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