When it comes to selecting a new IT system or application for their company, many managers and business owners focus almost exclusively on features and functionality. Less often, they evaluate the intricacies of the programming platform the solution is based on, since it can be seen as more of a “tech issue.” It’s easy to think that as long as you like what you see, it doesn’t really matter what platform the technology is built on. In fact, the technology platform matters…a lot.
For starters, what is a technology platform? It is set of programming technologies and underlying systems on which IT systems and applications are based. Any future developments, enhancements, and integrations to the system would utilize the tools and techniques that are available for the platform. For example, there are distinct differences in the tool sets for developing and running applications in platforms offered by Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, and Google. Each offers a unique set of tools that are engineered to take maximum advantage of their platform’s internal coding capabilities.
Although we are moving toward better integration between platforms (commonly referred to as open architecture), it will still require translations and continuous maintenance to ensure operational integrity between systems. Integration also requires people with technical skillsets who are familiar with all of the underlying technologies in order to achieve a well optimized solution. Such skillsets are in high demand and, as a result, most integrations end up being “shallow” due to a lack of sufficient expertise across platforms in play.
For these reasons, when selecting IT systems or applications it is important to educate yourself about the underlying platforms. Evaluate how the platform will fit into your organization’s overall IT portfolio, the impact on existing internal and external skillsets, and the total cost of ownership. This information can then be coupled with the capabilities offered by the IT solution you’re evaluating, so you can make a well-informed decision.
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