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Publisher / Editor @ CloudAve and Enterprise Irregulars. Industry Observer, Blogger, Startup Advisor, Program Chair @ SVASE (Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs). In his "prior life" spent 15 years immersed in the business of Enterprise Software, at management positions with SAP, IBM, Deloitte, KPMG and the like.

7 responses to “Are Suites Really Sour? The Best of Breed vs. Integrated Suite Debate.”

  1. Emma Hoyle

    Interesting post Ben, but I think your argument glosses over the fact that the Suite approach requires the business to make compromises in areas of the business, and only works if you can run your whole business on that one suite – as soon as you need some other specialist system, or acquire another operation that you need to integrate, you’re in trouble because Suites, by definition, are not designed to make integration easy.

    The Best-of-Class approach may bring with it some integration challenges, but means not making compromises on functionality, or on the support for a specific business area. Critically, many organizations today are as much software companies as anything, having developed specific operational systems that are CRITICAL to their business and make them uniquely competitive – maybe their ordering systems, or logistics app, or website, or whatever. Many more organizations are actually made up of different businesses in different markets needing different systems, that a single suite cannot support. That is where Best-of-Class shines, and is why solutions like FinancialForce.com and CODA Financials thrive…

    Force.com essentially brings cloud apps together as a Suite by offering exactly the combination of tight integration, common interface and flexibility. Many businesses can already find everything they need on the platform, even the last critical element required for a serious business system: enterprise-class finance ;-) Many companies, especially smaller ones, don’t need a full ERP suite. They need a handful of critical applications that can grow with them.

  2. Zoli Erdos

    Emma, Thanks for your comment. I started to respond here, but I’ve realized I’d better “save” it for a follow-up post. I’ll say hi to Ben for you :-)

  3. Is SAP Business ByDesign affordable and would you choose it anyway?

    [..] Are Suites Really Sour? The Best of Breed vs. Integrated Suite Debate.(cloudave.com) [..]

  4. mkinnerup

    Hi Zoli,

    I have read your different posts on SaaS business suites with great interest. My first comment as a business suite provider must be that I am still waiting for a clear definition of defines a business suite. I was trying to make that point yesterday at TechCrunch Copenhagen (http://eu.techcrunch.com/2010/05/26/live-from-copenhagen-techcrunch-nordic-pitches-speakers/). The category also has a different name (even in your post): online business suite, SaaS business suite, integrated all-in-one suite. I wonder when you will be able to find a good definition on Wikipedia?

    I agree with your point that customers are still left with the same problems of integration as they have always had in the on-premise world. And even when APIs allows for seamless integration you are still stuck with a number of different vendors and multiple bills which will end up being quite expensive.

    You talk about small businesses being without a CIO, but argue that only NetSuite and SAP Business by design is their two alternatives to a SaaS business suite. What about all the small players like FengOffice, Moobiz, ERPLY or even my own company delivering the same functionality and often even more? It could also be worth discussing if an all-in-tool should also integrate communications tools like email or IP telephony?

    If you are considering to make a comparison of all the business suite players I will gladly contribute. One metric to compare by could be the ability to take to data with you for another system you have discussed previously on CloudAve (http://www.cloudave.com/link/dear-open-source-fellas-let-us-start-acting-3-3-2010). Suites based on open source have an advantage here.

  5. Siim Esko

    Our reply to this discussion is up on our blog:

    http://www.office123.net/best-of-breed-vs-suites-why-versus.html

  6. Zoli Erdos

    Siim, You’re making good points both here and in your blog post.

    I’m obviously not claiming that NetSuite and SAP ByD are the only players, but they are the two heavyweights with industry recoginition, analyst and media attention …etc. In the SMB space customers won’t spend big bucks on feasibility studies, software selection projects – recognized leaders will have an advantage here.

    On your point about communication, YES, YES, YES. This is why I fell in love with a European SaaS provider in 2006:

    They focus on the SMB market and offer a modular but integrated system with a breath of functionality I simply haven’t seen elsewhere: Accounting, CRM (Contacts, Lead Mgt, SFA), ERP (Supply Chain, Orders, Products), Communication, Group Scheduling, HR, Project Management, Publishing, Intranet. Essentially a NetSuite+Communication, Collaboration“.

    They should have become the next NetSuite … they did not – but that’s another story. And for the record I also believe NetSuite should team up with a provider of all these communication / collaboration services ( I even know who).

  7. Siim Esko

    Thank you, Zoli, for an invigorating discussion both here and in the blog. I am an avid follower of your posts right now and it is interesting to see what your thoughts are on this as we go along.