Customers Prefer “All-In-One” Solutions
So I have been a smartphone user for a few years now, and it continues to astound me how much I rely on my device on a daily basis. People who know me well will tell you I am generally not an early adopter of technology, so it took me longer than most of my technophile contemporaries before I jumped on the bandwagon. And the real tipping point for me was when I realized that I could replace a number of single-purpose devices with an “all-in-one” solution.
In a practical way I could get rid of my cell phone, my MP3 music player, a GPS, an antiquated voice recorder, and a low resolution point-and-shoot digital camera in favor of a single smart phone. And sure, some of those devices had a few more bells and whistles than what was available on the smartphone, but those were typically features which I did not use or care about. And even better, most smartphones were designed with extensibility in mind… which means that I could easily enhance my smartphone with additional capabilities that matter to me, over and above what comes installed on the device.
In thinking some more about this topic, I realized that the convenience of “all-in-one” solutions have always appealed to me...
For example, I remember how impressed I was with my first “all-in-one” inkjet color printer, a device that could crank out crisp pages of rich text and graphics, but also serve as a scanner and a fax machine. As an entrepreneur, this device made my life a LOT easier, as I really appreciated the integration and simplicity of its various functions.
Going back even further, I had a similar reaction to my first laptop. It was a Windows 95 laptop which was leased for me by my employer, and considering that I had just spent the first 5 years of my career working on DEC VAX mini-mainframe “green screen” systems, the ability to unplug and take that laptop home seemed amazing to me ( the novelty quickly wore off with my wife ). Not to mention that fact that you could install additional applications quickly and easily which allowed you to really take advantage of the capabilities of the machine really appealed to me, and gave me that “Aha!” realization that computers were definitely going to cross over into the consumer world in a big way.
So this preference for “all-in-one” solutions is probably one of the reasons that I am more of a mainstream adopter of technology. I say this because it is those cutting edge early adopter types who typically purchase the more innovative, specialized devices in their early stages… only to find out later that the technology is being integrated into a more comprehensive solution. By waiting, I get to be the beneficiary of a device which better meets my broader personal requirements ( and saves me the expense of investing in a bunch of throw-away products ).
The common trait of “all-in-one” solutions is that they are generally delivered on a hardware device or software system which can be considered a “platform”. The platform provides the foundation for integrating the various capabilities. However, a platform alone is not enough to ensure broad mainstream adoption. You really need a set of fundamental features which people can immediately recognize as being useful to them. These could be in the form of applications or hardware capabilities, but it is essential that an “all-in-one” solution has the most important features available “out-of-the-box”. Lastly, an “all-in-one” solution needs to have some form of connectivity with other systems or devices. In the case of a smartphone it is really only useful if it is connected to a cellular network. In my inkjet printer example it was connected to a PC, and in the laptop example it was connected to a network ( the Internet ). Obviously wireless connectivity is even better than wired connectivity, which is why there has been an explosion of mobile devices in recent years.
So how does this all relate to DotNetNuke? Well, we have an open source software platform which provides the ability to seamlessly integrate a variety of business functionality without the need for advanced technical skills. We also have a CMS which provides many of the essential capabilities for building a functional business website – and later this year we plan to deliver a new product that adds additional capabilities to create an immediately usable “out-of-the-box” social business offering. The last thing we need to provide is connectivity… the ability for a customer to self-provision our software onto the Internet ( the Cloud ) so they can be immediately productive. Once we are able to do this, we truly can be considered an “all-in-one” business solution… which obviously puts a big smile on my face…
I am the Co-Founder and CTO for DotNetNuke Corporation. I am also the original creator of DotNetNuke, the most successful open source project native to the Microsoft platform. I have 20 years professional experience in architecting and implementing large-scale software solutions for private and public organizations. I am a frequent speaker at conferences and a contributing author to a variety of DotNetNuke publications including the WROX Press book titled Professional DotNetNuke 5 - Open Source Web Application Framework. I was a founding member of the Board of Directors for the OuterCurve Foundation, a non-profit organization created by Microsoft whose goal is to enable the exchange of code and understanding among software companies and open source communities.