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In the previous few articles, we discussed the necessity of an engagement platform for modern growth teams, questions to ask while choosing an engagement platform, and the warning signs that your brand needs an engagement platform. In this article, we are going to answer one of the most hotly debated questions when it comes to choosing a solution: Point or integrated platform, which is better?
According to the research that went into building the two-volume buyer’s guide to customer engagement platform, the most commonly cited problems while implementing a customer engagement platform are:
After covering the build vs buy debate, it is time to address the conversation around point vs integrated platform.
But before we dive into the topic at hand, here’s a question for you: Would you rather have a customizable action figure of a superhero/heroine or a wooden block figurine?
If you chose the former, then you value customizability over one single specialized function. This also happens to be one of the biggest deciding factors over swinging either way.
Let’s establish the clear differences between a point solution and an integrated platform before we begin to compare the pros and cons of each.
The fundamental difference between a point solution and an integrated platform is two-fold: flexibility and scalability.
Point solutions aim to resolve a single functional gap specific to a channel by using best-of-breed features. An integrated platform, on the other hand, solves multiple use cases and can be rolled out across different business functions. An integrated platform is essentially a perfect blend of intelligently designed software along with a supporting partner environment that makes it easier to meet the current requirements while scaling to future needs. Apart from delivering on its value propositions, a platform increases your ROI exponentially through partner ecosystem and integration capabilities. The robust and versatile integrated platform has time and again proven to be a guaranteed growth enabler for organizations.
A point solution on the other hand, while perfectly catering to its value proposition, is limited in terms of expansion. You only get what you pay for and in case of any customizations or changes, you’ll have to adhere to the company’s release schedule. While platform solutions make customizability or expanding into other functions look easy, it actually takes a lot of effort, time, and resources to partner and integrates. Hence, you are stuck with multiple best-of-breed solutions which in turn create silos with limited to no communication leading to a breakup in collaboration.
As already mentioned, the problem with implementing a point solution for your omnichannel engagement is that you might end up creating organizational silos with limited access to customer profiles and channel wide processes. In today’s ecosystem where both customers and brands prioritize a unified and connected experience across all channels, a siloed approach offered by point solutions is a bad idea. While an integrated platform enables seamless data sharing and optimizes organization-wide omnichannel processes, it often translates into a bigger investment upfront and organizational overhaul. It is extremely important to choose a vendor carefully by analyzing ROI with respect to integration time and effectively manage the implementation process end-to-end. Now, that you’re aware of the fundamental differences between point vs integrated solution and understand the implementation problems, let’s get down to a side-by-side comparison:
|Point Solutions||Integrated Platform|
|Multiple systems in place with several databases and various vendors to manage||Integrated, end-to-end business processes throughout all modules in the platform|
|Complex training and coordination with multiple parties, not only increasing effort but also cost||Simpler training and coordination owing to fewer integrations and lower implementations, thus reducing cost|
|A complex ecosystem of standalone technologies integrated together||A simplified approach to cross-channel reporting and tracking|
|Difficulty troubleshooting when problems arise across different tech integrations||Single technology partner for all troubleshooting and maintenance issues|
|Absence of 360-degree view of customer and interactions across touchpoints||360-degree view of customers and promotions on a single platform across channels|
|An additional burden on IT to support and maintain multiple systems||Lower maintenance cost as a result of a single technology stack|
|Best-of-breed solution specific to one department, often not benefiting the entire organization||Enables smarter promotions, providing other teams with up-sell and cross-sell opportunities|
|Managing constantly changing applications, interfaces, and data models||Convenience and ability to innovate and adapt to changing market trends|
We hope this comparison in the tabular format has helped you understand the pros and cons. But if you’re still confused, worry not, we’ll summarise the benefits of an integrated platform, show you why point solutions won’t work in the mobile-first world, and provide you decision-making tips.
While best-of-breed point solutions resolve the pain point at hand but they do so with a singular focus. This leads to the creation of a large number of standalone, pain point-specific solution buckets which not only hamper communication and collaboration but also affect the omnichannel experience. In this age of mobile-first experience, having a point solution poses certain problems, let’s have a look at some of them:
An integrated platform provides you scalability and flexibility advantages, not to mention the profits, exponential ROI, business growth, and long-term benefits of being future-ready.
Let’s break this down further to help you understand what exactly you need based on business priority. Here’s a look at some of the deciding factors:
Now, that you are armed with all the pros, cons, and have weighted the short-term/long-term benefits of point and integrated solution, it is time to leave you with tips that’ll help you choose better.
Check out our blog on the 10 questions you need to ask while choosing an engagement platform for detailed insights!
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