RSG on Products vs. Platforms

By Deane Barker on June 8, 2012

After our discussion yesterday on products vs. platforms, Tony Byrne sent me a report from Real Story Group that really lays bare the entire argument.

Some quotes (all with Tony’s gracious permission):

“Platforms vs. Products” has replaced “Suites vs. Best of Breed” as the primary architectural debate in the content technology segments we cover

I remember that first debate from years back.  I don’t know that we ever came to a resolution on it.  (Incidentally, I just heard it come up again – a CMS vendor was trying get us to sign on as a partner, and they kept saying “single stack” over and over…)

RSG also captures the crux of the supposed Holy Grail, as I defined it in the prior post:

Most big (and some small) vendors tout their “platform” capabilities: base frameworks that customers, integrators, or the vendors themselves can
customize to meet a wide variety of potential use cases enterprises might need to address. The rise of “Industry Solutions,” “Accelerators,” “Kits,” and the like are an attempt to make Platforms more palatable to customers seeking simpler solutions. Most (though not all) open source projects lean in the Platform direction. Most (though not all) SaaS offerings are more Product-like.

RSG’s advice here is sage:

Product-oriented tools tend to trade short-term wins for long-term inflexibility, while platforms tend to offer long-term capabilities in exchange for higher near-term resource requirements

[…] Take a hard look at your internal capabilities and program-level maturity. If you can boast comparatively advanced internal resources and experience, you could obtain a real competitive advantage by going with a platform rather than a product. If you’re running lean, then admit that you can’t address the complexity that comes with exploiting all that extra power, and consider more productized solutions.

And there you have it: a platform gives you more flexibility in the long-term, while a product promises lower cost and quicker implementation in the short-term.  Which end of the scale is more important to you is for you to decide.

The report is for RSG subscribers: How the New Platforms vs. Products Debate Impacts Your Success

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