Integrated Platforms vs Best of Breed

Integrated Platforms vs Best of Breed

Like many people, I am constantly searching for some underlying truth or wisdom in all things. This enables me to spend less time deliberating and more time making progress – at least that’s the theory. 

Early in my IT career, I stumbled across the term ‘best of breed’ which identified some solutions as the best in their respective field or sector, typically nominated by well-known industry commentators such as Gartner. 

I was quickly sold, and in my world, a best of breed solution was something you would always choose to purchase assuming you could afford it. Why wouldn’t you want the best possible component to enable your organisation to succeed?

There seems obvious logic to choosing the best components in every situation, following the ‘best of breed’ approach. It’s like speccing out your dream bicycle and drooling over lists of titanium this, and carbon fibre that, to achieve the ultimate build. 

Our always-connected world continues to evolve and IT systems integration remains a pivotal challenge for many organisations, especially at scale. Even minor inefficiencies can soon add up to a significant cost and business interruption, as is the scenario plaguing the NHS in the UK.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/feb/24/health-and-care-systems-must-be-integrated

If you follow the ‘best of breed’ logic, you are likely to end up with an ununified IT estate made up of different vendor products and services, possibly built on different underlying technologies. Sadly, interoperability is still not a given in our industry and, even when products claim adherence to interoperability standards, there are often integration issues. Two products that function well in isolation can generate trouble when brought together. 

Factor in the plethora of identity management, collaboration products, key enterprise applications such as ERP and CRM and the situation can become painful really quickly. 

On the flip side, fully integrated application suites, such as Microsoft D365, are also not perfect and have their fair share of idiosyncrasies to work around. 

So what is the answer? What should we do? 

For me, it is best to tackle the most thorny problem first. Integration can often be the bigger problem to solve and so perhaps it is better to procure an integrated solution from a single vendor, even if the individual applications are not best of breed. In most situations, baked-in integration is typically more valuable to a business than any collection of best of breed solutions.


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Are you refreshing your enterprise application strategy or approaches to IT procurement ?

Dan Merriman is an Associate Consultant at Techolony and specialises in leading global IT Change and Transformation solutions.


If you wish to speak to Dan or the Consulting Team, phone us on 0161 209 3922

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Tags: Digital, Integrated, Platforms