Over the last few weeks we have spent a huge amount of time assessing a huge variety of cloud based SAAS platforms – and it has been a hugely enlightening process.
We have looked at order and inventory management systems (BrightPearl, Linnworks, Netsuite, Unleashed), Booking systems (Timely, Book4Time, ISalon) Point of sale systems (Vend, BrightPearl, IZettle) ecommerce platforms (Shopify, Magento Go) Accountancy packages (Xero, Kashflow, BrightPearl) and linkup platforms (Vortex, Stich, Bizelo).We started off in familiar fashion by comparing platform functionality against a list of requirements, and where we found deficiencies assessed alternative processes to achieve that requirement. In the SAAS/Cloud environment this pretty much broke down because:
1. The nature of SAAS vastly reduced our scope to customise how the various platforms operated against our required processes
2. We were often unable to control how information was passed between platforms, both in terms of the information passed and triggers for these exchanges
We therefore had to quickly adjust the manner in which we assessed platforms and start to assess platforms on the basis of a new set of criteria – well actually one additional criteria
HOW EXTENSIVE IS THE ECOSYSTEM ?
It’s a little bit like when the CEO of Sony, Howard Stringer proclaimed that “Devices without content are junk” – we now say “Platforms without an ecosystem are junk”. All that fancy functionality is not worth much if the platform cannot communicate seamlessly woith other complementary platforms. An accounting platform is far less useful if it does not talk to Point of Sale, Ecommerce is useless without cross channel inventory management (You get the picture here!).
Two little caveats – Sony’s stock price is now junk – in spite of Howards efforts, and this does not solve the age old problems and difficulties of integrating platforms (quality integrations are like gold dust – still!).