A Case for Adopting Best of Breed
7 reasons to consider Best-of-Breed to drive innovation.
Construction companies know infrastructure. At the core of what they do, they design, they build, they install, they service. Whether setting in place the foundation for a road, a city, or a building, they must create something out of nothing from concept to physical reality. The industry is good at what it does: laying the foundation required to build our imagined future.
The time is right to start considering the imagined future of how Construction companies operate their businesses. Not tomorrow, or next year, but right here and right now. There are many transformational concepts entering the conversation around how technology is impacting the industry, from the use of drones to the use of augmented and mixed reality concepts to 3D printing. But something that is being overlooked and less seldom talked about are the transformational abilities that are already available:
The software needed by construction companies to innovate and improve the value they seek to deliver is already available across many functions.
The term infrastructure can mean many things. It can refer to a type of construction, such as Heavy Highway or Civic Engineering. It can refer to the physical technology stack that many companies employ to help them operate their business. But it also refers to the application footprint a company uses to operate successfully, putting the right tools in the hands of the right people to capture every ounce of success that is available to them when the people, the process and the technology are all aligned toward the same purpose and outcome.
Byron Deeter, from Bessemer Venture Partners talks about this concept in an OPED that appeared in the Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal not moments ago, but over 4 years ago! The idea and reality is not new that a company can adopt the applications and tools they need to perform their jobs in as efficient a way possible. The reality is no longer out of reach. After all, when it comes to the tools the workers use to actually construct, why use a hammer when a nail-gum is available? The industry has evolved its use of tools for decades inside the actual construction process, but has become somewhat cemented in place when it comes to viewing software as an available strategy to separate itself from the competition and drive innovation to achieve more successful outcomes for themselves, their customers, and their communities.
It is in this spirit I offer 7 key reasons companies in the AEC industry need to seriously consider adopting a best-of-breed strategy.
1. First: What is Best of Breed Software?
In the simplest terms, best of breed software is a focused application meant to achieve specific outcomes. Rather than choosing an all-encompassing, sometimes monolithic application that touches all business lines, a best of breed application is designed to empower a specific function, or even subset of a function in the business and can often be so focused that it enables a specific role in the business. These are all example functions that could adopt a specific solution meant to enable those functions in a far more sophisticated way.
2. Ever Hear the Phrase, Happy Employees Make Happy Customers?
Many companies are coming to embrace the Employee-centric culture required to establish competitive advantage and sustainability in the race for talent and customers in the evolving, but competitive landscape of the AEC industry. Rated the second largest industry in the world, the talent shortage is being felt far and wide and more than ever, Employees require choice. The best Employees also require autonomy. Allowing Employees to work with the systems and tools that enable them to perform their best work creates an environment that helps Employees be more productive, more collaborative, and more customer-centric in their approach to delivering outcomes your customers require.
3. Up-front Investment of Time and Money is Minimal and Streamlined.
The technology landscape has moved quickly toward the “as-a-Service” model for adoption and delivery. Gone are the days of large capital investments into the technology hardware needed to run the applications that run the operations of any individual firm. With virtualization and cloud technology becoming the standard rather than the exception, IT infra-structure investment is being replaced with software applications that are readily accessible through lower cost plans that remove barriers to entry and help companies get started with little to no up-front investment. The model works well in that value derived is captured in a streamlined way because the spend required to scale the use of the system aligns with the value derived from using the system.
4. Focused Upgrades.
How many of you out there have used an email or messaging system like Gmail or Facebook Messenger? How many of those systems have you had to upgrade? The same is true for most applications delivered in a Software-as-a-Service format that promotes mobility and web-based accessibility through cloud technology. These systems are essentially maintenance free – for you. The maintenance and upgrade path is managed in whole by the Vendor delivering the product to you and is generally baked into your pricing plan with them. That means that all of those internal resources you used to deploy to manage upgrades and infrastructure can be repurposed for far more productive work.
5. Huge ROI, Rapid Payback, Time Savings!
Working in the consulting space for almost two decades, a common thread throughout every project, engagement or solution provided in that time has been that the more intangible benefits and soft costs related to automating work activities and maturing processes is almost always ignored or discounted in favor of the only Immediate-term concern often in play: the actual dollars or time required to get from “here to there” in that moment.
Many estimates of the overall productivity improvements available to any organization that strategically invests in technology adoption with a long-term focus is often more than 20% increased productivity across their entire operation within a very near term 3-5 year period. The strategy to enable technology adoption and the challenges that can come with it can seem daunting, but the payback is quick and offers significant time savings and return on investment. To paint this picture differently, I’m advocating for the fact that for every one hundred employees that you have today, productivity improvements through technology suggests the same work could be performed with twenty fewer employees in just a few short years with the right adoption strategies in place.
6. Cloud Computing is a Powerful Thing.
Cloud Computing is an often confusing concept for non-technologists to grasp and make relevant meaning of. So, let me offer you a simple explanation. Cloud Computing is nothing more than an evolution of technology infrastructure that increases your options. Cloud Computing makes application use and availability more cost effective, available, and efficient for companies to leverage. No more large investments in servers and storage and server rooms are necessary to bring applications into the operation.
To offer an age-old analogy, people used to have their own wells. You had to go to the well to fetch a pale of water. Then one day someone came along and said “How about I just pump that water straight into your house to all the different endpoints you’ll need it in an instant? Oh, and I’ll purify it first too.” Late adopters and cynics fought giving up their wells, can your business afford to be the laggard clinging to the well in the back yard rather than adopting the cloud?
7. Don’t Forget the Data + Don’t Ignore the Objections
Not everyone will agree with a best-of-breed strategy. There are challenges that exist, including the potential for data islands to be created in various areas of the company. An integrated product suite will make the case that an integrated data structure is required for a business to operate well. Sometimes, that is absolutely the right approach. If and when a company does decide to adopt a best-of-breed strategy, however, they had better incorporate an integration strategy, toolset, and overall mindset in executing the plan. There is a real possibility that data will become decentralized, be hard to move and harder yet to manage if this consideration is not part of their strategy and selection process.
Many best-of-breed solutions will claim to have integration, but be sure to challenge the theory. Having an open API framework is a huge step in the right direction, however providing access to their system, and therefore your data, is not integration. It is access to the data you are authorized to access and have a right to interact with. Software platforms that make access to your data through their system fully available “get it” and are often ahead of the cure in this regard. But integration doesn’t start and stop with access, so be sure to go beyond how you might access your data to also challenge the means with which you might take action on your data.
No matter what systems a company that works in the AEC industry chooses to fulfill its mission, the industry at large is faced with an overall productivity imperative that will require all of us to evolve the way we operate, collaborate, and ultimately deliver value. Ryvit was founded on this Observation; that in order to be more productive, businesses are demanding solutions that maximize their productivity and provide an integrated application experience to help automate work-flow and analysis. Coupled with this imperative, some software companies are addressing this head on, while others are fundamentally failing to establish focus and resources needed to rapidly develop and deploy integration solutions for their customer base.
Most of the time, integration is often confused with access. Many companies will tout integration as an available, working feature of their platform, when in reality they are providing access via an open programming model or framework. The shift toward open programming frameworks is a welcomed change, a shift in the right direction. For the software providers that have yet to adopt this strategy, they will likely soon be forced to.
Ryvit, the Integration Platform built specifically for the unique needs of the industry, believes integration should be delivered as a solution, not just access. We can do better than simply providing an open programming framework. We must start there, but we must also push beyond that to finish in a more connected place. Ryvit will continue working to help fundamentally shift the mindset toward integration and best-of-breed adoption of application use within the industry, all with the singular focus of establishing automation for collaboration and data movement, and through that, higher rates of productivity across the entire operating model.
For companies that embrace these shifts, we expect the payoff to be huge.