Technical Platform, Functionality and Timing

Technical Platform, Functionality and Timing

Author: Shaun Williams
Published: 21 July 2023

Before joining Cenata, I had always been on the “Client” side of technology and not the “Vendor”. My IT career started in the 1990’s specialising in computer networking and Mainframe / Unix connectivity. Over the next 20 or so years I progressed into IT Management, by chance predominantly in the insurance sector. I have therefore seen the evolution of underlying technical platform’s during this time. When selecting core business systems over the years, I felt that ensuring a software vendor had a robust technical platform roadmap in place was equally if not more important than software functionality. In fact, many vendors that could not demonstrate a clear platform roadmap did not secure new contracts. When I think of the vendors that I have chosen throughout my career, the ones without a robust technical platform roadmap in place have not fared well. I personally think that it should be the duty of a software vendor to ensure the platform roadmap is in place. The problem for the software vendor is that changing platforms is extremely expensive (licensing, personnel, coding skills etc.) and eats into their profitability. In theory this should all be funded from licensing, but in practice it rarely is.

For a software vendor to add functionality to a product is far less onerous than changing technical platforms. Embedded security, software updates, scalability and robustness are now considered to be must haves when making business system decisions. With true cloud solutions such as Microsoft Azure, SalesForce and AWS these are largely taken care of, and this enables vendors to focus more on functionality. I am happy to work for a business that offers a true cloud solution for their clients, now that I am on the “Vendor” side of technology.

Companies can become over reliant on their core / legacy systems and if their software vendors have not invested in a platform roadmap, the decision to change core systems must be considered. This is often so overwhelming, the very thought of it is constantly put on the back burner. If this sounds all too familiar, just remember, doing nothing is never an option and you are in charge of your own destiny. There is never a great time to implement a new system, but there is no excuse for not ensuring that all core business systems have a robust recovery plan, that they are secure (patched), scalable, and can support the business strategy. If core / legacy systems cannot meet these basic requirements, then it requires escalating and prioritising accordingly. The 25% at the top of the iceberg, keeping the lights on / business as usual / what people see etc. is critical but without the 75% of innovation, planning, research, decision making and clear strategic thinking underneath the waterline, the future is uncertain and potentially very risky when dealing with core business systems.

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