Why Best of Breed May Not Be The Best

Considering updating your technology eco-system? Storm's CEO, Karl Flannery, shares his insights on why best of breed may not always be the right fit for your business.

The author of this page: Karl Flannery
Karl Flannery, CEO Nov 05, 2020

As organisation’s accelerate their digital enablement and transform their business with technology, a common and well-accepted strategy has been to identify the best of breed solution or technology to deliver a set of business requirements within the constraints of the budget and scale of the procuring organisation. Certainly, many early stage organisations are deploying a multitude of carefully selected and innovative software products from multiple vendors to track and automate the various processes managed by the users in their organisation. But is this the best long-term approach?

For example, if one wanted to build the best car in the world you might consider just sourcing the best subsystems (engine, transmission, suspension, braking, climate, etc) from the various sub-suppliers and try joining them together. However, in doing so we would probably end up with the 'camel' of motor vehicles. It is careful integration against an overarching architecture of these subsystems that delivers a superior experience.

Microsoft have over the past decades bundled many of its products (think Microsoft 365). While bundling is a business model that enabled Microsoft to be so successful, it was the integration and seamless operation between the individual Microsoft products that provided the compelling user benefits.

It is interesting to see Slack, whose Chat product is (arguably) better than Microsoft Teams, seeking to force the unbundling of Teams from Microsoft 365. As reported in a Financial Times article Slack stated: “Microsoft has illegally tied its Teams product into its market-dominant Office productivity suite, force installing it for millions, blocking its removal, and hiding the true cost to enterprise customers”. While Slack works with Microsoft 365 and SharePoint, the better integration of Teams with Microsoft 365 and the fact that it is just 'easier' to use in conjunction with the ease of management for IT, is giving Teams the edge.

As we embark on our respective digital transformation journeys, we need to carefully balance the obvious desire to deploy best-of-breed versus the superior experience of deploying and consuming integrated sets of technology (bundles). While a few of the components may seem mediocre, it is the sum of the parts that delivers a more effective system and a better experience. Accepting at face value that best of breed solutions may be the right approach could led to issues like differing user experience per solution, difficulty moving data between systems and the inability to negotiate better subscription pricing when dealing with multiple vendors.

In a business environment where economies are still reeling and a vaccine has yet to be found, work becomes more digital, collaborative and flexible. Integrated systems and technology that seamlessly operate in harmony with the demands of users will become ever more important to the enterprise as they seek to reimagine their business.

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