Ever since the role of information technology became prominent in the business world, enterprises have always known to have used various software solutions to streamline and simplify various processes within their companies. They do it by implementing either a single comprehensive and integrated solution or a best-of-breed solution.
When it comes to integrated solutions such as an ERP, the major issue is that updates aren’t frequent and technical teams are plagued by tedious multi-year implementations. To overcome this hurdle, enterprises go for best-of-breed software that are quite agile. This article explores both integrated and best-of-breed software along with their pros and cons and where new innovative software such as a Customer Data Platform (CDP) fits in.
Best-of-Breed Vs Integrated Software
As the name suggests, best-of-breed software focuses on a particular functional area and excels at it. So if a company wants to use software that specializes only in CRM, it can do so by selecting a vendor that only focuses on that aspect.
The pros of best-of-breed software are as follows:
a. Specialized in One Functional Area
As it is focused on one functional area, companies can be assured that the best-of-breed software will be a top-notch innovative offering. It can have multiple updates over a year with lighter training for employees.
b. Highly Agile
Such software has lower implementation costs and offers less risk to enterprises. 90% of vendors are open to trial periods or proof of concept wherein the company can try out the product for a short period before agreeing to a long-term contract.
c. Faster Implementation Time
A comprehensive integrated solution can take up to a year for its complete implementation. At the same time, best-of-breed software can be up and running in a matter of weeks.
Price is a major factor that attracts enterprises to best-of-breed solutions. Such solutions are typically cheaper than integrated solutions as the focus is only on a niche functional area.
The cons of this software are:
a. System Integration
The fear of data getting siloed with a best-of-breed solution is always there. Although most solutions come with integration capabilities, there are chances that it can go wrong. And they may not have a smooth architecture for multiple systems integration.
b. Workforce Training
For each new best-of-breed software that is implemented in the company, the workforce needs to be trained adequately. There will be time and effort involved in employee training especially when moving from a legacy system to a new best-of-breed solution.
Integrated software is an all-in-one solution that has everything that an organization wants to do in a particular domain. For example, integrated software for marketing & sales will have modules for marketing, sales, CRM, etc. The company doesn’t need to buy separate software for a particular function as it can get it bundled with an integrated solution.
The pros and cons of integrated software are as follows:
a. Single Software Solution
The software is like an umbrella that has every function related to a particular domain. Data management becomes simple as it is available in one location instead of silos.
b. Tight Integration Between Modules
It becomes easy to navigate between various modules in the software due to their tight integration. Module switching becomes quite effortless and seamless to users.
a. Longer Implementation Time
Integrated software typically takes a long time to implement for enterprises. As they contain multiple modules, the process takes a couple of months to over a year depending on the complexity of each module.
These solutions are expensive when compared to best-of-breed software. They come in an all-in-one package that has an expensive fixed price that enterprises need to pay.
Where does a CDP Fit In?
A CDP is the latest innovative solution that has created a stir in the martech universe. This is mainly because of its data unification and management capabilities. It has the unique capability to stitch and unify data across various silos and systems to present a golden record or a unified view for each individual user.
As there are numerous best-of-breed and integrated martech solutions in the market, where exactly does a CDP fit in? Does it belong to the best-of-breed category or is it integrated or something else entirely?
The answer to these questions is simple. A CDP doesn’t belong to any particular category. It can easily integrate or co-exist with both best-of-breed and integrated software solutions. A CDP’s USP is that it can easily integrate with multiple systems and data sources. In fact, the more systems it integrates with, the better it becomes in creating detailed unified user views.
If an enterprise has implemented 2 or 3 best-of-breed software, a CDP can assist in aggregating and unifying data across these systems. It becomes a central data hub that helps marketers in drawing valuable and actionable insights.
For integrated software, as the data is already available under one location, a CDP can assist in making better sense of the data via its unique data cleansing and identity resolution capabilities.
At the end of the day, both best-of-breed and integrated software help enterprises in simplifying, streamlining, and automating their processes. It’s up to these organizations to decide which solution they exactly need that can meet their challenges and requirements. If it’s just a niche area such as email automation that they need to look at, then a best-of-breed software makes more sense. But if they need a universal solution that can help them in various functional aspects of their business, integrated software is what they should go for.
By Bijoy K.B | Senior Associate Marketing at Lemnisk