IT projects are not a simple matter. It takes time, budget, project teams, demos, vetting, RFPs, executive buy-in, implementation, deployment, change management and a slew of other challenges and processes. For years, the idea of using best-of-breed software solutions has been debated against using one integrated, enterprise application that can handle most requirements.

According to PC Magazine, best-of-breed systems are “the best product of its type. Organizations often purchase software from different vendors in order to obtain the best-of-breed for each application area.” The overarching idea is that while there are tremendous benefits for having departmental or function-based, specialized software, integrating it with other systems can often be cumbersome. The reverse thought process is that ERP or enterprise applications don’t have integration challenges, but they also don’t address all of the requirements and functionality that best-of-breed systems possess. It comes down to using one software vendor, or many vendors.

However, the fear of best-of-breed solution being able to integrate well with other systems is a thing of the past. With the growing demand for technology standardization and modernization, Web Services OpenAPIs, like Swagger and others, are enabling smooth interoperability. Middleware can now bridge gaps between different platforms, either on-premise, cloud or a hybrid alternative so organizations can select the best products to meet all of their requirements throughout the enterprise.

Cloud-based best-of-breed solutions have been gaining rapid adoption as companies recognize the many benefits. Cloud technology offers faster, flexible, scalable and lower cost solutions. Again, using standardized Web Services OpenAPIs to easily connect to other systems, it alleviates any apprehension of difficult integrations. Other benefits include reduced risk, faster deployment, on-demand updates and fixes, and it eliminates the need to purchase hardware, servers, storage, security, network infrastructure and maintenance.

One of the by-products of best-of-breed solutions is that we are seeing reseller, channel, OEM and technology partners emerging and adapting to support this shift in IT purchases:

  • Enterprise workflow software products like Nintex, K2 and Microsoft Flow are experiencing major growth as organizations are looking for tailored solutions throughout their company.
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) vendors like Blue Prism and UiPath both use their technology to create digital, robotic workforces that improve specific processes, thereby considering themselves best-of-breed solution providers.
  • OEM partners like Infor are bundling best-of-breed solutions, like Ephesoft, into their larger enterprise offerings to give their customers better, more flexible solutions.

Gartner recommends that CIOs work with line of business (LOBs) leaders to adopt best-of-breed solutions that work best for their specific needs, while understanding the impact on the rest of the organization. As organizations are realizing the benefits of analytics and metrics for departments, best-of-breed solutions often specialize in understanding a function area or industry better than a general ERP solution. Therefore, these LOB leaders are adapting and pushing to use the most innovative technology that solves their business focus and processes. Addressing LOB needs with best-of-breed systems and channel partners leverages industry experts with a core focus, which lends to achieving a competitive advantage in the market.

Ephesoft’s enterprise content capture and data discovery platform is a best-of-breed application offered on-premise or in the cloud. The solution is often used as an onramp for classifying, extracting and exporting data into an ERP or LOB system. Ephesoft’s core focus is making meaning out of unstructured data so it can be used by decision-makers worldwide.

For example, the solution can take a mortgage loan packet’s data, organize and classify that data, and export it into a Loan Origination System (LOS) for fast and accurate loan processing. The LOS might have a capture component to it, but that component will not have Ephesoft’s patented, supervised machine learning algorithms that maximize efficiency, accuracy and productivity compared to the LOS capture tool offered.

Another example is that Ephesoft’s platform can capture personnel files for onboarding, classify, extract and export the necessary data into a larger, integrated ERP solution. Either way, the platform specializes in a specific function of intelligent capture, also known as best-of-breed software. Ephesoft’s reseller, channel, OEM and technology partners are also experts who can implement a wide range of best-of-breed solutions, not just smart document capture.

At the end of the day, CIOs and LOB leaders must evaluate the benefits and challenges for the types of solutions they will implement, along with the consideration of company goals, its vision and business processes in order to determine the best path.