Recently I had the need to explain to a customer how Office 365 is not only an application and services on the cloud but is also a platform for application development due the usable components for extending a business application.
The scenario is the customer is moving to Office 365 for their email and currently has an application which is a standalone business application, in this case, a practice management application for an accounting firm.
The challenge with this standalone business application systems, is that they were designed to do one thing (in this case, to assign work to people) some time ago and did not develop at the speed of other more generic tools like Office 365, etc.
Let me use the analogy of a car since I love cars and racing them.
So this practice management application is one of these cars you get from a dealer like VW, Audi, Lexus and even Porsche. You pay for the car, load the fuel (data) and you can start driving it.
Office 365 is a like place you can to get a lot of spare parts that are of a good quality but you will not get a car that you can start and immediately start driving – you have to build it from these parts. That is the key difference between buying a car off the dealer and going to Office 365 where there is no pre-built car you can get, load the fuel and drive. You have lots of spare parts but you have to assemble the car (the business application) you want.
Then there are tuning shops, which take standard car parts and tune them or built special parts like engines, chassis, lighting, gearboxes, clutches, wheels or brake systems, that are far more advanced than anything you get with Office 365 out of the box. These special tuners parts are compatible with the Office 365 standard though. This means you can assemble a car from all the standard Office 365 parts and then use a tuner to add additional very special parts to give you the perfect Office 365 custom car.
If you want a car that will be extraordinary and will be able to deliver the best performance for your unique road conditions (Autobahn, Off-Road, Nürburgring, New York City, Italian small town with cobble stone roads, etc.) – whatever your business is - you can choose the right parts and configure them to deliver the best possible performance output. Now the parts are getting better overtime as new releases roll out frequently and you get free upgrades so you can always profit from the very best what’s on the market like real time notifications, graphical UI for workflow builders, mobile access, deeper integration with Office 365. Also the development of Office 365 as a platform offering more and more possibilities – much more than closed systems (ready built cars). On the contrary the standard software (in analogy a car from the dealer such a VW, Audi , Toyota or Honda.) develops in a much slower pace and stays behind not leveraging the potential of technology and todays standards of work like AI or Big Data.
But there is one thing to consider – these custom made cars are not that cheap. I am sure you seen shows West Coast Customs or Fast n’ Loud and Counting Cars on tv about the cost of custom rides.
To provide some real world examples, we have built ready to sell solution for companies based only on KanBo (http://www.kan.bo/) and O365. In some instances we used Microsoft Flow (limited but usually enough to get the job done). We have also taken this to a higher performance level by using the FireStart BPM suite (http://www.prologics-it.com/en/firestart-bpm-suite/) instead of Microsoft Flow for advance customer scenarios.
I have presented to you the full scope of the possibilities and you have with Office 365, KanBo and advance BPM tools such as FireStart vs. a stand alone business app (a pre-built car from dealer). Together with our partners, we are in the AMG, the ABT, Nismo and the M-Power business – not the regular Car Dealer business.
Please contact me if you know what you would like to drive, that require a special car to get away from your competition. :)
(thank you Michal Sobotkiewicz from Kan.bo for the idea of the analogy above)