This article explores the best-of-breed and best-of-suite approaches for IT modernization projects. It highlights the advantages and drawbacks of each approach and proposes a balanced, hybrid architecture as an ideal solution. By adopting a hybrid approach, organizations can leverage specialized capabilities while benefiting from standardized processes and governance. Modern integration tools and methodologies can reduce the burden of wiring products together, and can empower businesses to customize workflows, adapt easily, and maintain a flexible technology foundation. This enables differentiation, competitive edge, and freedom from vendor lock-in, making it an attractive choice for organizations seeking to balance operational optimizations and technology-empowered growth.
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Organizations undertaking significant IT modernization projects often encounter a dilemma between selecting a single vendor and a best-of-suite approach or integrating distinct components of best-of-breed software.
One example from the telecommunications vertical includes Telcos deciding to work with mega-vendors to cover their entire BSS and/or OSS estate, the alternative being separate vendors for billing, order management, CRM, etc. Another example across industries could be decisions between one platform for all digital channels vs. specialized options for web, mobile, etc.
In this article we touch on the differences between best-of-breed and best-of-suite, expand on the “dilemma”, and provide our opinion on what an ideal scenario could be.
We define best-of-suite as comprehensive software suites that consists of different modules, each delivering business capabilities that span a wide range of functions within the domain they serve. Some examples:
An integrated ERP and CRM suite
A CRM suite combining Sales, Customer Management, Marketing and Service Management.
An HR combining employee records management with performance management.
Best of suites are meant to deliver integrated functionality, a seamless user experience, and centralized administration. However, it is important to acknowledge that sometimes this is not always the case, especially in cases when a suite was put together via acquisitions of separate components.
In addition, not all suite components are equally exceptional and while some may provide top-notch capabilities, others may fall short. Consequently, the suite's overall performance may verge on the “average” as opposed to being “strong” across all areas it serves.
Best-of-breed refers to specialized software that excels in specific areas, delivering advanced capabilities tailored to niche, often vertical requirements. It concentrates on a singular function, such as in:
Sales and Pipeline Management
Best-of-breed generally provide superior features and in certain cases may provide strong capabilities designed for specific industries.
Whilst best-of-breed may sound as a good proposition, it is important to acknowledge that integrating each best-of-breed product with several other software from different vendors, can sometimes be a cumbersome process, requiring additional effort and investments.
Examples (and an Unusual Disclaimer)
Some examples as provided by chatGPT are listed below. This is one of the cases where we will add a disclaimer that this information is based on AI-generated responses and may not reflect our own views or opinions:
Best of Breed
Best of Suite
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Microsoft Dynamics 365
Human Resources Management (HRM)
Oracle HCM Cloud, SAP SuccessFactors
Content Management System (CMS)
Adobe Experience Manager
IT Service Management (ITSM)
BMC Helix ITSM
Pros and Cons
Understanding the pros and cons of each approach is crucial in selecting the most suitable option for meeting specific business needs and goals. A sample, non-exclusive comparison is presented below:
Best of Suite
Best of Breed
What should Organizations do?
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, it is crucial to understand certain key parameters that may affect the final direction and eventual vendor selection.
Striking a balance
Best-of-breed can deliver significant market differentiation and increase organizational performance.
Embracing a best-of-breed with custom integration approach, empowers businesses to maintain control over their technology architecture, avoiding vendor lock-in scenarios that limit flexibility and drive costs upward.
However, the associated cost on handling the integration part, could be a significant hinderance factor.
Choosing a best-of-suite approach offers benefits like unified processes and governance, as well as rapid deployment. And if the pre-integration promise is delivered, it could save on the initial project investment.
However, this approach may lead to vendor lock-in and can create dependencies that hinder innovation. It could also include hidden costs, such as ongoing fees for unused functionalities that come with the bundle.
Organizations must evaluate long-term implications and risks before committing to a best-of-suite solution.
By selecting best-of-breed solutions for functions that directly contribute to their competitive differentiation, businesses can harness specialized capabilities that set them apart in the market. Simultaneously, adopting best-of-suite solutions for standardized functions and “systems of record”, can deliver benefits along the lines of unified processes and governance. The proliferation of APIs and several integration approaches, makes it easier and more cost efficient to adopt an approach where integration is not a hinderance and where sticking the right balance results in the best of both worlds.
Businesses can optimize their operations by pursuing a balanced architecture that combines the best features of both comprehensive software suites and specialized software solutions. This approach enables businesses to differentiate themselves and maintain a competitive advantage, while still benefiting from the advantages of comprehensive software suites. Importantly, it allows businesses to avoid being tied to a single vendor.
In today's technology landscape, this approach is particularly attractive and feasible because businesses can easily integrate their software solutions through the widespread availability of application programming interfaces (APIs). By integrating software solutions, businesses can create a customized ecosystem that effectively meets their specific requirements.
Moreover, businesses can enhance their freedom and control by taking ownership of their Enterprise Integration Architecture. By assuming integration ownership, organizations can tailor data flows, design customized business workflows, and easily adapt to changing needs. Leveraging APIs and event-driven architectures enables the creation of a cohesive ecosystem that empowers businesses to build a robust and flexible technology foundation for growth and innovation, free from the limitations imposed by a single vendor.
Original content created by VFTee, with editing and expansion done using AI language model ChatGPT. While ChatGPT assisted in the content creation process, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s). We probed the system, and the content reflects our own research, ideas, opinions and insights, and we take full responsibility for its accuracy and completeness. ChatGPT was simply a tool we used to enhance our writing, and we retained full control over the content and editing process.