I started growing up playing and was a big football fan, have never missed any of the games. During my college days like many , I was also a fan of Beckham. We were impressed and fascinated by the impeccable ability of Beckham to bend the ball. I could remember all of those freekicks and still watch many of them on Youtube these days.
Years have passed, that generation has grown up and I also started “Bending.” The only difference is I am not bending a football instead I started “Bending the Requirements” to make sure it is matching up with the platform which we are using.
You might be wondering what I am talking about :)
I am working in eCommerce for quite some years and I progressed my career through many positions.Throughout this journey what I have seen is:
All the retailers want to go online and compete ( many a time survive) against the threat of Amazon.
Almost everyone wants to go online and they will eventually choose one of the platforms to make their dreams come true.
In the initial stages of the dream, the SI (Service Integrator) of the platform will promise to develop all the functionalities the client has requested for.
The client will sign the agreement and once they start the project they will start seeing the experts of the platforms. The ones who are specialists in “Bending the Requirements” (Once I was also one among them ).
They will say the all the business requirements can be achieved but, not in the way business wants. Instead, they can achieve those using the out of the box advised method of the platform.
At the end of the day, 90% of the clients will end up comprising the actual business way of doing things. Because that is not possible to achieve in the chosen platform. The clients will give a tough time to the SI’s (Fact is the SI’s will give a tough time to the clients), this is when you will start hearing about the jargons (actually these are the concerns of the SI’s & Platforms) of software updates or threats about security etc.
This is where the skill of the so-called “specialist” will come into play, “Bending the requirement to score the Goal”.
But the question is who is going to win with that Goal?
The SI will definitely win because they will deliver the project on time and within the budget. But what about the client, they have to live with this platform with bended functionalities forever.
Looks like SI is the Villan, What do you think?
If you look into this closely you will realize that it’s not the problem of the SI. Because they can only do things according to what the platform provides ( they can do some customizations but not too much ).
Hmmm….. so the Villan is the platform providers?
It might look like that but, all the platforms have an advised method of doing things and it might not be compatible with all the business requirements.
So we got the Villans its the “Platforms”
hmmm… Maybe not, Just zoom out for a moment
“doesn’t it sound like a “One size fits all” theory? Is that practical.?
It’s not possible to build a platform that can work with all the business requirements under the sun. Hence all platforms are built to works with the basic eCommerce functionalities. Plus they will allow some bit of customization ( keep in mind there are only a few which you can customize in the cloud platforms )
.. hmm so the villains are not the platforms, Then where is the Devil?
I will tell you a story which is related to sports.
In the early 2000s cricket was facing a challenge. The shorter format of the game is one day long and the millennials were not patient enough to sit that long and watch the game. The game started losing its popularity.
Whereas, football is a game of rush of blood and full of energy for 90 minutes.
So in 2008, the cricket world came up with a new format called “T20”. Which is a much shorter version of cricket and the new generation will get the same or equivalent feel of football. It became a success and then this format of leagues started showing up in different parts of the world.
You might be thinking how is this relevant:
The cricket world could have gone ahead and drastically formated the game like football. Instead, they went and looked at the core of their business and kept that intact, and played around with other features like time and overs.
The retail business should do the same, look at what is their core business offering and differentiators. How they are different from their competitors and what is the uniqueness they have in the Brick and motor operations. We should try to offer all of those in the same or even in a better way in eCommerce.
So before finalizing the platform you have to see if your core features can be achieved and not just the core of eCommerce functionality can be achieved.
If platforms are not allowing you to do your core business be bold and take steps to custom build those features. You can do that either as a customization to the platform or as microservices. This way you won’t lose your core differentiators.
So essentially the retailers and SI’s have to avoid bending requirements like the platforms. Instead, “Bend the platform to achieve what the business wants without breaking it and make sure you don’t compromise on your business needs”.