We are all looking for the easiest and most cost effective solutions in everything that we do but often shy away from certain tasks due to their intricacies and capacity in being overcharged by vendors or providers.
As the web and enterprise have evolved and moved upwards through Web 1.0 and on to Web 2.0 the tools and information sources have improved but the need to develop all of the features necessary to e.g. build a website have remained quite basic.
I have always delighted in tools and services that not only provide quality functionality but also ones that save me time and effort in having to do exactly so.
My absolute favourites are ones that not only do the above but continue to deliver new releases that each time improve upon their initial offerings with quality support (i.e. More than just a teenager in Nebraska available outside school hours to offer it)
This was all brought home to me recently when I looked hypothetically at how easy it would be to create a new website and more specifically one which could be underpinned with ecommerce functionality.
Firstly, part one of my objective was to look at the website creation side of things.
I was pleasantly surprised by what I found and in how straightforward it would be to achieve this thanks to the quality of the offerings in the market place and through recommendations passed on to me by friends.
Not only that, they would look good too with minimal effort.
If you want a straightforward flash site, stop everything you are doing and head over to Wix and start playing around with what you want.
You can have something very impressive up and running pretty quickly that people will think you have had done professionally.
No coding necessary, search engine friendly, drag and drop design and above all its FREE to get going (you can upgrade to their Premium plans should you wish to bolt more on or remove ads etc.).
It really is as simple as that.
Moving on to the second task and the locating of a robust and easy to develop e-commerce platform.
Having previously created successful e-commerce sites for large multinationals, I appreciated the complexities and nuances to look out for but I was blown away by the quality and richness of the Magento E-commerce Platform offering.
These guys have really nailed the ‘out of a box’ e-commerce platform that has eluded us for years and have included everything that you could ever possibly need and wish for when trying to build an e-commerce platform.
The sheer breadth of features means you have to get your head together and really plan out your site beforehand. Study both your target markets and plan for the features that they will expect to see as well as the logistics of not only managing your inventories but also in managing the housework of the site itself.
Unless you are a developer or have access to the relevant development skills, you will obviously have to work with one of their solution partners to get your site to the level that you want to deliver to your clients.
I can certainly guarantee the cost of doing this is much cheaper and more beneficial than if you had to create a team of developers to create something from scratch, so it’s a no brainer to get a head start with a package like this.
Not only that but you will also benefit from all of the new features and functionality their new releases bring to market.
Their hosting and support model is also a nice comfort blanket and will keep you from waking up at night through the fear of losing your own developers and their specific skill sets and knowledge of your site/code.
The key here as always with development projects is to not over customise your offering so you can still benefit from the new product release and functionality delivered in the Magento software updates (over customisation is the most elementary and often repeated error in development projects).
The opening up of the Magento Platform through Magento Connect delivers a rich seam of extensions that are more often tailored by sector or specific niche but make no mistake they all help bolster an already feature laden platform.
I believe that opening up to a marketplace or 3rd party add on approach is crucial to the growth and richness of any platform – just ask the guys at Salesforce.com!
Footnote to Magento is that whilst I was writing this, it has been declared that they are being acquired by EBay – good for them and testament to the quality of their product!
So is this the evolution of a brief stopover at Web/Enterprise 2.4 on the march towards the fabled Web 3.0 with its primary drivers of personalisation and the Semantic Web?
Personally, I think this is a point version update that shows evidence of technology providing real and tangible progress that empowers both the enterprise and the individual.
At present, Social Media appears to be the magic carpet carrying society and enterprises in to a new technical era where it not only drives commercialisation but has also overtaken the older, rock solid medium of television amongst younger generations. However, this alone cannot sustain all necessary technology.
The benefit of all this to Enterprise is clear in that most software development will become easier and cheaper to produce.
With the evolutionary improvement of ‘out of the box’ solutions the size of development teams will naturally reduce as the volume of hand crafted code and subsequent support is reduced when compared with older methods of developing such products.
With the ultimate aim of delivering better products for your customers and in building shareholder value, we must embrace this advance in technology and developers must also move forward in learning new skills and taking that step forward hand in hand with the enterprise rather than rebelling against it.
The conclusion of all this is that tools and technology really have moved on and now offer incredible power and functionality to the individual that was only previously available through professional service companies.
Gone is the need to carve everything from the single block of marble by yourself as technology has yet again moved on and taken another long stride towards the nirvana of absolute functionality.