Why open platforms don’t have versions

Open platforms

The beauty of an open platform rests in the ability to continuously iterate and evolve. As features and learnings emerge, they’re folded into a single codebase, allowing providers like us and our app partners to innovate more quickly and save valuable development time by not developing for and maintaining numerous versions of outdated code. Instead, all participants and complementary players on our network benefit from our shared, multi-tenancy platform architecture.

Platform players that tout version releases are actually saying that they’ve waited to amass and address bugs and add enough new functionality to earn a packaged release – an anachronism of on-premise software. Missed some bugs? Forgot some requests? Sorry, you’ll just have to wait for the next version. In contrast, we make improvements and add features all the time and in the background and communicate the important ones in the user flow or to specific groups that have requested something customized.

No single company can match the innovative capabilities of the market on top of an open platform. Coupa, for instance, is working hard to deliver product on top of a crumbling software foundation, yet the impact is diminishing from release to release. At the end of the day it is simply attempting to bring a user-friendly, cloud solution to the market that in many ways resembles legacy software offerings. There is no real innovation or vision.

…its emerging Coupalink program taking a page out of the Tradeshift platform playbook – Pierre Mitchell, Spend Matters [link]

Tradeshift is disrupting traditional paradigms and changing the way businesses transact and collaborate along with supply chain spectrum. Our platform harnesses the power of third parties to add value in a way that is akin to Force.com or the Apple App Store. Customers can pick apps from our marketplace that includes technology from outside developers. Imagine the agility that this enables versus the alternative. Businesses can be nimble when addressing change, such as responding to an industry disruptor by adding new suppliers or quickly procuring new inputs for a new product opportunity. In just weeks, new functionality can be integrated via an app from a best-of-breed Tradeshift partner, rather than face the typical RFP, decision, and installation headache.  

The app and open platform will ultimately drive long-term innovation, disruption, and growth. The market is starting to recognize the value of true platforms versus closed suite solutions, and that’s why you see stalwarts rushing to a “platform strategy or PaaS,” seemingly overnight.

Sure they may have APIs, but they’re transaction-based, so customers can do things like integrate their ERPs, and not build entirely new capabilities that can change the game for themselves and their suppliers.

A Tradeshift, we’re not focusing on buyers and offering ‘watered down’ functionality to suppliers. We’ve connected 800,000 users from across companies of all sizes, engaging suppliers in a way that gets them to participate and collaborate. This will surpass the savings-only benefits companies get from legacy P2P vendors, such as those limited to point-to-point connections.

The future belongs to those who are fastest to respond to change and can learn faster than their competitors. To that end open platforms help companies evolve by enabling continual business process innovation. Software versioning does the opposite. It fragments the network, creates upgrade anxiety, and stifles innovation.

About the Author

Tradeshift connects buyers, suppliers, and all their processes in one global network. We help you transform the way you work with suppliers today – and adapt to whatever the future brings.

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