We’ve all made software decisions that have gone on to cost us time, frustration and money. As a business owner, I feel an overwhelming pressure to make sure that our own company uses software that helps us to be effective, profitable, and well-poised for the future. Where we’re using a supplier to deliver a software solution for clients, their performance is equally vital. Making the wrong decisions can feel like a death sentence, and for a business, sometimes it can be.
So how can we choose the right software? Well, I think a first step is to understand the macro trends that define these choices. But one thing’s certain, whichever software choices we make, WordPress can act to successfully bind together all manner of systems.
The opportunity: Pragmatic Digital Platforms
When we speak to clients and prospects, and in particular to those responsible for strategy, we find they’re increasingly looking for fully-connected business software platforms. But more and more they are discovering that one vendor or one solution won’t provide all of the components they need. Those that have paid out for software licenses in the past will likely have suffered at the whim of closed roadmaps, limited supplier choice, and not knowing what’s going on ‘behind the curtain’. Their only alternative is to consolidate best-in-class components into proven, effective, integrated architecture. This trend, this quest to successfully incorporate separate software elements, results in what I like to call ‘Pragmatic Digital Platforms (PDPs).’
A PDP can allow for the varying rates of adaptation and growth of the distinct components. It can evolve over time, incorporating updated and best-of-breed software as innovations arise. But whereas no single piece of software can meet most organizations’ needs, there’s a case for having a consistent and unifying structure to underpin and assimilate everything else.
Strategically, PDPs add capital value to a business through:
- Data ownership
- Technical and operational design control
- IP creation
- R&D tax credit compliance (in the UK)
- Driving digital capability within the organization
- Granting organizations the control over where to invest in unique capability and where to leverage off-the-shelf capability
Almost every organization has a requirement for web-based content management, whether it simply runs their customer-facing platform or maintains their entire business infrastructure. Until we invent a more effective way of getting communication out of one human brain and into another than a Content Management System (CMS) – one that fulfills the workflow, governance and structural requirements that corporations have – then WordPress simply has to be a very strong contender for that central role in most PDPs.
How WordPress can help
In my opinion, that’s one of the fundamental reasons that WordPress has been so extraordinarily successful. It’s great software, supported by one of the world’s largest open source development teams – ranking in the top 2% of all open source projects. But more than that, it’s used by a huge number of suppliers and end users. With almost 70 times the number of SERPs for ‘WordPress agency’ as for ‘Drupal agency’, WordPress is truly the lingua franca of the web.
WordPress is incredibly well connected. I think of it like a multi-purpose adhesive. It’ll connect with and stick to almost anything it comes into contact with: search engines, email providers, CRM systems, payment gateways, social media and far more besides.
WordPress eliminates the risk of investing in architecture because it’s free, open source, community-owned and has a public roadmap. Prototypes and proofs of concept can be achieved very quickly to de-risk critical path and run lean, agile or risk-mitigating programmes. It’s fast, easy and inexpensive to customize it and to develop new integrations. You can take as much or as little as you need. You can swap out components as required, and that’s true whether you’re enhancing or replacing native WordPress functionality with an integration or swapping integrations in or out to maintain alignment with your requirements.
One real world example we’ve worked on is a platform for PEI Media, the first release of which is https://www.secondariesinvestor.com/. This combines an identity and entitlement management system called Blaize with WordPress to power the architecture and drive sophisticated B2B content revenue and realize a contemporary data strategy.
[Caption: An illustration of a software architecture that might power Secondaries Investor]
The end result is a super-fast, highly-cacheable but dynamic and scalable website that draws on many layers of architecture. WordPress acts as a platform of differentiation that connects with everything, from embedded social media to CRM. It serves as a great example of a platform that leverages the power of connecting different components to serve PEI Media’s strategic business objectives.
[Caption: PEI Media’s platform, www.secondariesinvestor.com]
Where does this trend take us?
Inevitably, this trend takes us towards two types of organization: those that pay license fees then leverage the platforms they have, and those that build strategic digital capability as a core business competence and create a Pragmatic Digital Platform.
So it’s time to draw a line in the silicon. And time for companies to decide whether they want to drive a standard model car, or configuring their own. Both strategies are valid and will produce winners in their respective races. Either strategy might provide the best value at any given point in time. Predicting the strategy that’s the right one though is the next great game.
If you come down on the side of Pragmatic Digital Platforms, WordPress is a strong contender for the content management system component. More than that, it deserves serious respect as a pot of digital glue to which you can attach the other components that your organization needs in order to execute and leverage layers of different architecture.