Magazine article CRM Magazine

Suite versus Best-of-Breed: Is Less Really More? When Not All Solutions Are Created Equal, Choosing One Is No Easy Task

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Suite versus Best-of-Breed: Is Less Really More? When Not All Solutions Are Created Equal, Choosing One Is No Easy Task

Article excerpt

OUR COMPANY is frequently asked if it's better to purchase a suite of fully integrated applications or to invest in multiple best-of-breed solutions that have to be integrated at the customer's site. While the answer may seem obvious, it's not always a simple decision.

ALL SUITES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL

Part of the reason this question is challenging is that not all suites are created with the same functionality or integration. Integration has a different meaning depending on the individual vendor's history and perspective. End-user expectations for integrated solutions also vary. As a result, the benefits of preintegrated solutions range considerably. In an ideal situation, a suite of applications is fully integrated, shares a common architecture, has a standard administration environment, delivers fully consolidated reports that share data between the various applications, and even provides functional synergy. In this case, an application suite is advantageous, as long as each of the suite's modules has the key functionality that the end user needs.

The challenge in using suites arises when individual modules/applications are not sufficiently feature-rich, not on par with stand-alone/best-of-breed applications, not fully integrated with other applications in the suite (once you look under the hood), do not share a common administration environment, and do not offer consolidated reports. While it's helpful to reduce the number of vendors your company has to deal with and manage, if the functionality of the individual suite modules is weak or not fully integrated, the headaches may not be worth it. This is often the case when vendors purchase third-party solutions with the intent of integrating them into their platform, but delay doing so. Anticipating the integration benefits, the buyer's senior management may jump the gun and plan IT budget cuts and staff reductions. But during the implementation--surprise!-they learn that they need to hire additional resources to perform the promised integrations.

A REAL-WORLD EXAMPLE

A great example comes from the relationship between contact center infrastructure solutions--automatic call distributors (ACDs) and dialers--and workforce optimization (WFO) solutions. …

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