The Future is Bespoke (Software)

Over the last few decades we’ve seen a constant shift in approaches to IT solutions, from taking out-of-the-box software and heavily customising it to fit business processes, through to changing business processes to work the way the out-of-the-box system does things. More recently we’ve seen a hybrid approach with out-of-the-box software being integrated with bespoke systems.

These changes have not stopped, and in 2020 we will see the shift towards more bespoke solutions continue.

The old argument that ‘we’re too big for bespoke’ is no longer valid. Some of the world’s biggest and fastest growing businesses, such as Google, Uber and Amazon, are continuously and successfully delivering large scale bespoke software projects.

This change of attitude is proof that bespoke projects are not inherently bad, however, they must be carefully managed and gain the full support and engagement from across the business in order that project goals can be achieved.

The amount of time to develop bespoke software can be seen as a barrier, but agile working practices have definitely helped in this regard, giving people the ability to see their system developing in increments, with the ability to provide feedback and react to change throughout the process. There is, however, a danger that businesses over complicate agile practices. Businesses delivering bespoke projects should stick to the basic principles of delivering something early, working in continuous increments and adapting to feedback, otherwise there is a high probability that they will come undone. This isn’t the fault of choosing bespoke over out-of-the-box, rather an illustration that clear objectives and carefully plotted milestones must be agreed before any development commences.

With a younger and more tech-enabled workforce, who have an app for everything, the need for tablet and mobile adoption will only continue, as they are becoming both customers with expectations of mobile offerings, as well as employees with the capability to adopt mobile working. The need to engage and empower end users in the development process will also increase and we’re already seeing more non-technical users taking cloud based wireframing and prototyping tools to drive digital projects forward, with some continuing into the domain of low-code/no-code development platforms.

As businesses strive to find ways to differentiate themselves against the competition, the case for building bespoke is a very strong one. While out-of-the-box can deliver satisfactory results and get you to where you want to go quickly and easily, it’s unlikely to give you a competitive advantage as your rivals are able to buy and install exactly the same piece of software.

With attitudes changing at board level and technology moving from a supporting framework for operations to be a tool for real competitive advantage, CEO’s are demanding far more. It’s this demand that will see the need and desire to develop bespoke systems grow in 2020.

Author: Yash Hirani

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