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Exceedra Byte: Technology Platform vs. Software Product

TRADE

This week on our weekly vlog series Exceedra Byte, Jon Shuttlewood, Head of Product Marketing and Brendan Roberts, Head of Product Development discuss the differences between a technology platform and a software product, and how they both work together.

So, what is the difference between a technology platform and a software product?

Where products are generally pieces of technology that the users typically interact with, touch, and feel and use to perform a particular job, a platform is the fundamental design principles, technology architecture and structure to drive meaningful interactions between the products.

To use your phone as an example, the products are the apps that you use every day, such as Maps, WhatsApp, or your Calendar. The platform, however, is Apple IOS or Android – the software that allows the apps to run, to feel and sometimes look similar to the user. The platform also allows the apps to connect with services like GPS, or even to each other all to create a richer user experience.

We recently as a business started to move away from building lots of individual products to a more platform led approach. You might be asking the question – isn’t that a lot more work and effort to get everything lined up centrally rather than building each product on its own?

It certainly required some thought work up front to understand what it is we are trying to accomplish from both a business and a technology perspective and to develop the platform framework to enable that, but the payoff is worth it.

  • We now have a unified approach to building our products in a scalable, performant and secure way.
  • We are able to scale our team to build products and services quicker and with high quality.
  • We are able to share high value services and functions, such as our forecasting engineer and our uplift models between our different product lines.

By building a platform, we are also enabling easily connected products. We can drive an increase in value across different business functions by sharing the data. A good example of this is being able to synchronize promotion data from our Trade Promotion Management (TPM) Solution into our Retail Execution Solutions automatically, allowing both the planning of our retail activity, as well as the enabling the at-shelf execution of the promotion.

This can be both ways too. We can capture things like the ACV compliance from Retail Execution back into our planning systems to give the head office a deeper insight of how the promotions are running to aide in future negotiations with the retailer.

By defining goals around scalability, connectivity and security that were discussed in the previous points, we plot a clear vision for existing products within Exceedra. It also allows any new ideas that we have to become products and get to market quicker, where they can bring value to our customers. And finally, it allows our client technical services to hook in to the platform to extend functionality through new integrations and functions that a business might need extra.

So that is why it is good for us, but how can it help any clients or customers that utilize products on a platform?

Our end users get access to a massive array of information and services from a total platform rather than just being limited to what is held within each product.

Imagine trying to use a PC but not being able to copy between Excel and Word and PowerPoint, or using your phone and your text message app cannot get the numbers for people that you have saved in your call app. That is what a consistent platform with products that can talk to each other gives us.

In addition, it means that everything on that platform “feels” intuitive.

  • Same design principles – if the platform is using the same design principles, which a lot of the good ones do, it means that you as a user can jump into a new product and sort of “know” your way around it by feeling. The save button is always in the same place, the font and colors feel right.
  • You are the “same” user in the platform instead of dozens of users in different products.
  • Your user settings and accessibility options transfer across.
  • Going between systems is more intuitive

“Our end users get access to a massive array of information and services from a total platform rather than just being limited to what is held within each product.” – Brendan Roberts

Finally, even if as a user you only really use one product on the total platform, you will still experience benefits from a thoughtful user experience, gained from platform-led expertise and through feedback of multiple users from multiple products. If it is using shared services that are improved over time, you will still get those improvements.

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Exceedra Byte is a weekly vlog series where we take complex trade and revenue growth management topics and break them down into byte-sized pieces. Stay tuned every Thursday for new episodes.

Watch the previous episode of Exceedra Byte – SaaS Vs. Bespoke Software Solutions

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