Single Platform vs. Integrated Platform – What does that mean?

By Josh Davis

As someone who has been marketing software for the past seven years, I’ve learned how cautiously vendors tend to phrase how their solutions are “integrated” with each other or with other vendors. The way it’s marketed can look fantastic on a piece of collateral or on a website, but when it comes down to actually using the solution, it can be far different.

With our last blog post and the newest installment of the Workforce Management Trends Series on integration I started thinking about this… If you ask five different people what integration means, you’ll likely get five different answers. Instead of trying to come up with a single definition of what integration means, I’ll help you navigate through the marketing fluff and show you two of the ways you can expect your solutions to work with each other.

Single Platform – This is the most ideal scenario for your company. A single platform for multiple applications SHOULD mean that this is a platform built from the ground up on one database. In saying this, there would be only one database for the data housed within all these applications.

What does that mean and why does that matter to you?

This kind of solution enables you to have a single record for:

  • An employee in the case of workforce management or human capital management
  • A prospect in the case of sales and marketing, or more specifically CRM and marketing automation
  • A customer in the case of a support platform and CRM

All of these would result in only one field throughout all your solutions for a last name. The biggest benefit to this is really that there is no exchange of data that needs to take place – essentially all these solutions can act as a single application. This kind of solution essentially goes beyond any formal definition of integration where separate applications or software solutions are connected together.

Beware, though! Vendors using this phrase may be talking about an integrated platform…

Integrated Platform – An integrated platform may be branded as a “single platform” or vice versa, but these are usually yesterday’s applications cobbled together with a common or similar interface that makes it seem like a single platform. We like to call this lipstick on a pig. One way to uncover this is by asking whether or not all these solutions were built on a single database from the ground up. If they were developed separately, that should be a red flag, as what you’re evaluating is likely just an integrated platform.

It’s not bad… but it’s not the best. And with all the consumer software technology we use today, we expect the best. There has to be an exchange of data with an integrated platform between applications. The main difference between this and the single platform mentioned above is that changes made in one application likely won’t flow over to the other application simultaneously, or in ‘real-time’.

What does that mean and why does that matter to you?

  • Without a single database:
    1. There are multiple employee, prospect, or customer records that need to be maintained. And as a result, this could mean having to enter the same data more than once.
    2. Additionally, with these separate records, this would require separate implementations, and therefore, a longer time before you’re actually up and running with your solution.
  • Also, if data isn’t exchanged in real-time, it impacts the integrity of the data and you may not necessarily be able to make your decisions in real-time because you’re waiting for a scheduled data exchange between Application A and Application B.

Integration can be overwhelming when we start uncovering the level at which the integration takes place, whether it’s simply a single sign-on or a tighter, more seamless integration, a one way integration vs. a two way integration, etc.

What does this all mean??? Your best bet is to just find a single platform of applications that all reside on a single database. It’s what we’ve all come to expect from software. The only problem is one vendor can’t specialize in all these different areas… unless we’re talking about workforce management.

Click here if you’re interested in hearing what other experts in the space have to say about workforce management integration.

About Josh Davis:
Josh is the Channel Marketing Manager at Kronos SaaShr, and is responsible for driving the marketing strategy and plan aimed at increasing the growth of existing channel partners in addition to the recruitment of new channel partners.


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