Platforms, Applications or Solutions?

By: Steve Robins

Today’s economy demands solutions that solve business problems. Let’s take a look at this from the perspective of a fictional customer as he compares three different approaches: platform, application and solution:


Sam Brown


Finance Director – Accounts Receivable


A consumer products corporation

What keeps me
up at night

Rising cycle times due to challenges unique
to consumer products, increasing staffing expenses – and pressure from the CFO to
lower my costs.

As soon as the downturn hit, I created a team to develop a plan to shorten cycle times and lower costs by automating more processes. We’re beginning to spec out our proposed system, so this morning I invited three vendors to come in and present their offerings:

Platform Vendor

The sales rep presented a broad and powerful imaging platform that could store and index all sorts of information for rapid retrieval. It looks like my entire company could use the platform. The rep told me how many companies in other industries were using it to streamline their processes.

Assessment: The platform was appealing since it could solve so many problems. But I just couldn’t see how it would help my department to shorten cycle times and automate processes.

Application Vendor

The second sales rep presented a packaged software application. She spent a lot of time describing the competitive features and technical enhancements. When I asked about customizations and integrations, she suggested I contact a system integrator who might have worked with her company.

Assessment: The “out-of-the-box” software seemed like it might lower risk. But I couldn’t see how I could get it to solve challenges unique to my company. It just didn’t meet my needs.

Solution Vendor

The sales rep came in with a consumer products expert from a large system integrator (SI) and together they presented their joint solution. The SI expert asked about my challenges and then they showed me ROI calculations for my industry. Next, the sales rep described how the tailored solution could address my department’s particular challenges. They talked about their business process optimization services, the packaged application and out-of-the-box integration to my existing ERP system, multiple deployment choices, and more.

Assessment: I need to learn more about this complete solution but it certainly seemed like it could solve many of my department’s problems with the clearest ROI and highest likelihood of success.


Platforms often require too much vision and can increase risk.  By themselves, applications alone may not solve all of the customer’s problem. That’s why today’s pragmatic customers are buying targeted solutions that solve specific business problems and can lower risk.

P.S. – Thanks Ben



Filed under Case Studies, Solutions

2 responses to “Platforms, Applications or Solutions?

  1. Pingback: Solution Marketing Best Practices – Presentation at ProductCamp Boston « THE Solution Marketing Blog

  2. Pingback: Solution Frameworks « THE Solution Marketing Blog

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