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    Enterprise Architecture - Platform Suites are Dying
enterprise architecture - platform suites are dying

How did it get started?
For a while a strong trend within technology architecture was to invest in large technology platform suites. This trend started with the core back-office functions and originated within the manufacturing domain. We are basically referring to the birth of the ERP platforms. The SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle etc. The driver behind these suites was to have the end-2-end process take place within a single platform. So basically an integrated process. From Manufacturing it expanding into Finance and Human Resources which is the classic scope of what we call today’s ERP platforms. From an end-2-end process integration this model worked pretty well.

But as most of you might recognize todays view of these platforms is different. No longer are they considered the holy grail.

So what went wrong?
- First of all, most ERP implementations turned into massive customizations as customers were unwilling to change their process and fit the product but instead we ended up “configuring” the product to client processes. The result of this become a maintenance & upgrade nightmare for almost every single customer.
- Secondly with the popularity of the ERP, the skillsets to run and manage an ERP become harder and harder to find. Therefore customers were relying on external support which made an already expensive ERP become super expensive.
- All the ERP vendors made one classic mistake. They provided process integration for sure and were also able to consolidate the transactions. E.g. one place for your invoices, payments, inventory etc. But what they missed was to create single place for your master data. Most commonly your customers. This then triggered the whole MDM hype.

Now this trend of large platform suites also expanding into the front-office applications. Most strongly the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) capability. But also other areas aimed for creating and buying into the big platform strategy.
But when after many years we make up the balance. Did this platform suite approach:
- Make it cheaper? --> NO
- Make it easier?--> NO
- Make it faster? --> NO

So what is the future?
Nowadays (as you can derive from the 3x NO), the recommendation to NOT go with an large platform suite solution. Even the big "independent" research companies like Gartner or Forrester are no longer recommending large suites.

The going forward approach is to go with best-of-bread products that use an open architecture: using commodity hardware (or cloud based), support standard integration techniques (web services), standard application platforms (Java, .NET) delivered by smaller vendors that actually care about their customers.

There is a huge group of companies that heavily invested in ERP solutions and are now getting stuck. Their future appears to move their implementations into a managed service model. So that they are no longer required to manage & maintain the ERP platforms. These are often interim states until they figure out what to do longer term.

Keywords: enterprise architecture, enterprise resource planning, erp, suite platforms

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