Industry Insights: Platform Innovation Starts with Understanding What You Want to Accomplish

Software Platform Innovation

It’s easy to get caught up in searching for the best application—for email, for texting, for accounts receivable vs accounts payable and so on. But that approach exponentially adds business complexity—raising issues with integration, management, security, compliance, tracking and reporting, employee training and more.

For substantial and enduring business value, start with the software platform.

Like Expresso™ for customer communications or Salesforce for customer relationship management, the right cloud platform can transform your business functions and build a strong foundation to grow upon. They make processes faster, more accurate, more automated, easier—better for employees and customers. They deliver greater efficiency while driving innovation, boosting performance, and opening new ways to do business.

The catch, of course, is figuring out the right platform fit for your business.

Software platform vs. product

It’s important to understand what a software platform is and how platforms fit into business and technology operations. Platforms are a major part of the evolution of cloud computing, which includes both hardware and software.

Some background: Organizations have rapidly moved from buying standalone software products, (Microsoft Word or Excel) and suites of products (Microsoft Office) installed on their own servers, mainframes, or personal computers. The trend is to use software accessed in the cloud, usually paid for based on usage or subscription, commonly known as SaaS or software-as-a-service.

The next step is a bit fuzzy because the terms SaaS and software platforms are sometimes used interchangeably. That’s in part because some software products transitioned to SaaS and then became platforms.

Still, they are two distinct software solutions. SaaS is an individual product that may integrate with other software or with platforms. In contrast, platforms host sets of software applications, with the ability to seamlessly extend the platform by adding new applications and capabilities that address different, related, and evolving business needs.

SaaS v. IaaS v. PaaS: What’s what

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)—Any software that’s not run on your computers/premises. Usually accessed via web browser and located in the cloud. Office 365 is an example.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)—servers and other infrastructure you access and use in the cloud rather than on your systems. Amazon Web Services and Azure are examples.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)—includes the components or framework to create and manage applications, most often used by software developers. Examples include AWS Elastic Beanstalk and Zoho.

Source: 2020 LogicMonitor

Leveraging platforms

Businesses are adopting platforms to create centralized hubs for operations that cross multiple departments, locations, and functional areas. Importantly, many platforms link to other platforms and company systems, often using APIs. As a result, platforms can:

  • break down data and department silos
  • encourage collaboration and innovation
  • digitally transform and automate processes
  • improve productivity and lower costs
  • deliver a better customer experience
  • expand to meet the needs of the business

Of course, companies stand a much better chance of realizing the full value of any platform if they keep several guidelines in mind:

  1. Start with the pain point (high volume of returned mail) or goal (cater to client preferences for communications), not the platform. Just because your competitors use Oracle doesn’t automatically make it the right fit for your problem/opportunity, organization, and culture.
  2. Understand what comes with the platform in the way of support and services. Because of limited wraparound services from Salesforce, most companies that move to that CRM platform end up hiring third-party specialized consultants to handle the implementation and training. It adds cost and time to find the right consultant. Other platform companies, including Nordis, provide dedicated client account managers and teams so there’s no need to source outside expertise. Nordis provides help from setting business requirements for print/mail through to payments and digital options.
  3. Consider if selfservice works for your team. Many platforms are chockful of tutorials, FAQs and other self-guided education and instruction. But users who simply want to do their job in accounts payable, client service, billing or marketing do not necessarily have the time or desire to become platform experts who must keep up with changes. And what do you do about training new users?

From self-service to more support as needed, you might be best served by opting for a platform variation known as a hosted managed service. That’s what Nordis offers with Expresso and ExpressoPay®.

  1. Factor in the ability to grow and add new services, especially digital options. Look for platforms that solve your immediate needs and have the capacity to evolve with your business. Many clients initially choose a platform for a distinctive service or function but progress to a more bundled approach of several services over time. Nordis makes that simple for our clients.

For example, some clients may be attracted by our omnichannel composition and distribution capabilities, which they can tap when they are ready. Then they can leverage options to add complementary applications to Expresso including, ExpressoPay, ExpressoVote® and ExpressoAP.

  1. Stick with platforms that play well by themselves and with others. Each platform should stand on its own, providing the solid foundation to streamline target operations and to scale over time. But to maximize use, value and ease of management, platforms need to integrate with other technologies and platforms, such as Expresso accepting data in any format from client systems providing ease of use and integration for your business.
  2. Seek out platform companies that welcome client input and collaboration. If you are going to invest in a platform and move critical business functions to it, it’s important there are opportunities to provide input and influence the platform roadmap. Check how the potential platform partner garners feedback, expands capabilities and ability of clients to participate in that process over time.

Platform innovation at Nordis

Nordis’ platform innovation efforts are centered on removing client pain points, improving business performance, enhancing customer and employee experience, and driving competitive advantage.

And we value our clients’ feedback and ideas to inform the development of our platform, applications, and services. Earlier this year, we completed our most comprehensive client survey to date under the guidance of our VP of Client Success Wendy Poe. We are thrilled to have earned an above-average Net Promoter Score of +55. Any score above 50 is considered excellent according to Bain and Co., creator of the NPS. Our focus remains to offer world-class-service to our clients and partners and build upon this already impressive NPS rating.

Expresso thrives on client feedback and input along with innovation from our product pioneers at Nordis.  Please stay tuned for new offerings, integrations, features, and enhancements over the coming year.

Making the right platform decision

There are no shortcuts in finding the right platform. The good news is that there are many options. And you can find the right fit with thoughtful preparation based on a clear understanding of your specific business considerations and challenges.

For more information, please contact us.