When shopping for point applications or enterprise software systems, buyers face a familiar dilemma. Best-of-breed or single-source? Is it better to purchase the best components possible and make sure they all work together? Or, is it preferable to work with one supplier who will take responsibility for installing and supporting the entire package?
For companies in the news media industry – especially those that are contemplating a move to the cloud – the trend is to find and rely on a single vendor for delivery, hosting, services, and ongoing support.
Why is this so important?
Working with a single supplier means that media companies can stop worrying about what’s called “contact chaos.”
The routine is familiar. Every time a new business need arises that involves software, the customer starts looking for a new application to add to the technology stack.
Multiple vendors are evaluated. Contracts are negotiated. Software is purchased and installed (in-house or in the data center). Sometimes new hardware is also acquired to run the software. Integration with existing systems is undertaken. Then something doesn’t work quite right, and the contact cycle begins again, often with finger-pointing and unanticipated costs involved.
Media companies are finding that a single-vendor strategy offers four key advantages:
- Quicker procurement. New software can be purchased and implemented under existing contract frameworks, enabling customers to turn business-driven technology initiatives into reality sooner than when working with multiple vendors. This translates into faster ROI.
- Faster delivery. When working with a single vendor, new software developments can follow the same style of usability and open integration. By unifying these development processes, new features and applications can be rolled out faster than ever before, and media company staff members will require less training to get up to speed.
As a result, the infrastructure will be in place to deploy new software at a much more rapid pace, without all the preflight checks normally required when taking on new vendor applications.
- Smoother migrations. The demands and daily pressures of the business mean that media companies want a clear and straightforward upgrade path to move their existing platforms to the cloud.
This means simple and automated migration tools to transfer existing content and commercial data, as well as documentation that is written in a like-for-like style to help ease the transition for all users.
In short, media companies want a migration plan that enables them to preserve their existing technology investments and extend these investments at a pace driven by business requirements — not vendor pressure.
- Greater transparency. Media companies are showing a preference for vendors that use an agile development methodology for all software development and product management activities. IT users and business stakeholders want more input and deeper insight into the roadmap process than ever before.
As roadmaps are being advanced, media companies want to see progress early in the development cycle and provide valuable feedback to the product management team.
Last year, Saugatuck Technology conducted its annual cloud buyer demand survey of 218 senior IT, business, and finance executives across a broad spectrum of company sizes and geographies. More than 80% of the participants held titles of director or above, with a wide range of industries represented.
When given a choice between buying software (1) as a single-vendor suite, (2) as a collection of best-of-breed point solutions, or (3) as a loosely coupled multiple vendor solution, respondents chose core business and finance platforms as follows:
- 58% prefer the single-vendor suite model.
- 25% prefer the best-of-breed approach.
- 17% prefer the multi-vendor approach.
The independent Saugatuck study draws the following conclusion: “As cloud solutions get more complex and deeper into the enterprise, the trend toward single-vendor, integrated business suites is clearly taking root, across all solution categories.”
Taken together, 83% of buyers across all business units prefer single-vendor or best-of-breed solutions, compared to only 17% preferring multiple suppliers.
At its most prosaic level, the single-source model means one throat to choke when problems arise and one cheek to kiss when everything is running smoothly. And, in a deadline-driven, mission-critical industry such as ours, no one has any time or tolerance for finger pointing.