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Throwback Thursday: How Many Products Does It Take to Screw in a Light Bulb?

Appian Contributor
July 14, 2016

If you're in IT, you know.

It's no joke.

There are technologies and products to help you address virtually any challenge.

Your challenge? Getting them to all work well together.

That brings us back to this post from a little more than a year ago.

While tech has evolved quite a bit even in the past year, the theme here still rings true.

I hope you enjoy this Throwback Thursday post from Malcolm Ross: "How Many Products Does It Take to Screw in a Light Bulb?"

Zach Messler

How Many Products Does It Take to Screw in a Light Bulb?

Of course this is a play on a classic joke, but seriously, today we find ourselves with an overwhelming number of software products needed to address our business problems. The butt of the joke has become the number of software licensing agreements required to create a seemingly simple business solution.

Conceiving the idea for that next great software solution that will change the shape of your industry is the easy part. But why is that idea that appears so clearly in your mind so tough to implement?

Once, it was enough just to move paper documents into a content management solution, or make a manual process automated with a BPM system. The reality, however, is these systems alone no longer effectively address our modern problems. Modern solutions must have many integrated pieces, including:

    • Identity and Security Management to manage users, as well as security of the system

    • Data Management to create necessary data structures to store business data

    • Rules to drive policies and conditions of your operations

    • Business Process Management to orchestrate the people, process, and systems that drive your organization

    • Content Management to capture and store relevant documents and media

    • Interface Design to create compelling and sticky user experiences

    • Mobile to access your software anytime, anywhere on the latest devices

    • Reporting to measure the outcomes of your ideas

    • Integration to connect your solution across the broader ecosystem of software

    • Collaboration to more fully engage your user community

    • Cloud to provide global scale

Whoa! Now that is a lot of software! You might be thinking, "I really don't need all of this," but the smart money says a competitive software solution cannot succeed without at least 80% to 90% of the components above.

That's why traditional stack vendors may seem like a logical choice as a platform. These big enterprise software providers offer a large stack of solutions, and they certainly can meet the need, right? Here's the challenge...their products are a hodgepodge of acquired components loosely integrated at best and licensed separately. Often, following this path gets you a suboptimal solution at an enormous total cost.

Alternatively, you could cobble together your own best of breed components, using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) and open source software. This keeps your software license costs down, but integration challenges up. Even tougher? The long term maintenance of your solution. As individual products reach end-of-life or are upgraded, you must increasingly spend time swapping out components and re-implementing integrations to keep your solution operational. Ironically, building your own innovations this way results in keeping you stuck in a cycle of continual maintenance!

The licensing and maintenance of legacy software offerings are just a distraction from what really matters. Realizing the full impact of your unique idea should not require 11 different software contracts and weeks (if not months) of installation and integration work. This is the market challenge Appian addresses with a single, unified enterprise platform to create solutions that meet modern business needs.

With all the necessary components in a unified architecture, as well as the ability to use easy-to-learn visual composition tools, you can realize the impact of your ideas immediately. Software components are inherently integrated and aware of each other. Upgrades are automatic, ensuring your solutions are always current, able to work with the latest and greatest technology now and in the matter what comes next. And, solutions adopt a powerful and secure architecture.

If you could turn your ideas into functional business solutions this fast...available on any platform...instantly consumable by anyone in your organization, would you? The next wave of software development is here. You can finally realize your dreams. Read more about how to do so here.

Malcolm Ross, VP, Product