Build, Buy or Blend

by Leonard Hayes

Leonard Hayes

One of the long-standing debates in the field of mobile enablement for the essential industries is the question of “Build versus Buy”. Should companies invest in packaged mobile solutions from specialist vendors? Or should they develop their own bespoke apps, perhaps using a mobile development platform?

Both approaches have their merits and drawbacks. If you pick a packaged application, you benefit from tried-and-tested software that integrates effectively with back-end systems and draws on best practices from across the industry – although it won’t necessarily be customized to fit the specific needs of your business.

Opt for developing your own software in-house and you can tailor the application to suit your firm’s operations. You could gain first-mover advantage by offering something unique – but on the other hand, you’ll have to invest a lot of time, effort and money to get anywhere near the level of reliability and seamless integration provided by a packaged offering.

But why does it have to be one or the other?

There is a third approach to software deployment – what we might call the “Blend” option. This is where vendors embed components of their packaged applications into a development environment, allowing companies’ IT teams to build those components into their own mobile apps.

Organisations that adopt this approach benefit from the thorough testing and close integration with back-office systems that packaged solutions can offer. And by using existing components to accelerate their own development efforts, they can create apps tailored to their specific business needs much more quickly – without wasting time and money reinventing the wheel.

We’ve been providing mobility solutions for utilities and transport organisations for over 14 years, and we’ve recently started offering a Blended approach that several of our clients are using in conjunction with various different mobile development environments. For example, they’re leveraging our back-end integration components to give their own mobile apps access to data held in asset management systems such as Ellipse, IBM Maximo and SAP.

The Blend method allows you to unite all the functionality your field engineers need into a single application, which means engineers won’t need to fire up multiple apps to complete one routine task. Equally, you aren’t locked in to a single vendor’s solution – you can swap software components from AMT-SYBEX and other providers in and out of your bespoke applications.

With a Blend approach, packaged software no longer competes with development platforms; instead, they complement each other. You don’t have to choose between sticking with standard industry solutions or starting from scratch – the right Blend can give you the best of both worlds.

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