With more transactions taking place online every month, few technology systems are as essential for business success as a digital commerce platform. However, there are a wide range of technology vendors to choose from (well over 100, by my count) and countless variations that online merchants can make when deciding how to architect, implement, and maintain such platforms. Once a merchant clears these initial hurdles and selects the right platform for the business – a daunting task to begin with – organizations then face an equally challenging project: figuring out how to get the system up and running. Unfortunately for online merchants, there isn’t an all-encompassing manual or blueprint explaining how to design, build, and operate a digital commerce technology stack. In fact, a dirty secret in the digital commerce platform market is that many commerce implementation projects take years or fail altogether. No organization has time to make mistakes with any of these decisions and projects.
As discussed in the first two blog posts in this series, cloud-native digital commerce systems can help B2C and B2B merchants leverage the full power of cloud by delivering greater portability, scalability, and business agility. However, there isn’t a “silver bullet” digital commerce platform or architecture that works for every company’s processes or organizational structure. As a result, many organizations that don’t have the right IT talent in-house or a trusted systems integrator (SI) partner struggle to take make the leap to cloud-native applications, or they fail to take full advantage of their capabilities. IDC believes that every organization embarking on a cloud-native commerce journey should consider the hurdles it faces in deploying cloud-native digital commerce and how it can overcome them by either building internal capabilities or partnering with an organization that can take care of the infrastructure.
Cloud-Native Digital Commerce Delivery Model Considerations
Although cloud computing has existed for over two decades and market awareness is increasing around cloud-native software, many of the B2C and B2B organizations I speak with are hesitant to make the leap forward. When we survey organizations about why they haven’t moved workloads and applications to the cloud, the most common reservations include inertia, budgetary limitations, and security concerns that persist in laggard industries. These are the usual suspects for why organizations are cloud hesitant. Thankfully, these concerns have diminished over the past few years as a greater share of organizations become acquainted with the benefits of the cloud, particularly with multi-tenant applications. The convenience of multi-tenant comes with constraints, and this is helping drive the shift in cloud adoption to cloud-native applications. However, from my conversations with merchants, it is clear that many have concerns about supporting the operational side of single-tenant cloud-native digital commerce applications. As a reminder, single-tenant applications offer merchants more control and ability to extend the digital commerce platform; they also take a higher level of expertise to support these activities. The following concerns come up the most often:
Ease of use: The second blog post in this series highlighted the importance of ease of use in bringing cloud-native commerce to the masses. This factor is important because hosted multi-tenant SaaS applications are very popular in the digital commerce applications space, and many of them emphasize simplicity and ease of use as core tenants.
Talent: Cloud-native digital commerce applications simplify the major headaches of running digital commerce software by having built-in scalability, reducing implementation times, and making upgrades easier. However, online merchants also need the right talent, such as CloudOps engineers to orchestrate how workloads are distributed across the desired cloud providers and maintain the application. Most B2C and B2B merchants we speak with don’t have large IT or development teams in-house to take over these tasks.
Uptime: Uptime is potentially more important for digital commerce than any other functional application; if your eCommerce site goes down during a peak traffic period, it could spell disaster for your business. While cloud-native applications are architected to be elastic, merchants are concerned about how to ensure the system runs smoothly.
Upgrades: Single-tenant cloud-native digital commerce applications typically offer clients more flexibility to adopt upgrades when the business choses. However, many organizations struggle with prioritizing upgrades and installing them when necessary.
Partnering for Success
There is certainly some truth to the popular adage “every company is becoming a software company.” I’ve spoken with retailers and manufacturers that have hired dozens of developers to build and maintain their commerce tech stacks. For organizations that are able to acquire the necessary talent, cloud-native digital commerce can be implemented as soon as needed.
However, the vast majority of online merchants I speak with have some of the talent necessary to support their eCommerce stack, but not enough to pull the trigger on cloud-native digital commerce applications. For these companies, it makes sense to find an SI partner that is experienced both with their digital commerce platform and with cloud-native hosting on various infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers. Ideal partners should understand the business processes, be familiar with configuring the platform, be agnostic to the IaaS providers, and offer 24/7 support. The right partner can take care of managing upgrades and keeping your stores up and running. Entrusting the health of your digital commerce tech stack with a partner is a major decision, but it is also one that enables your team to focus on what they do best: selling products and services, creating great experiences for customers, and growing the business.
This blog post is the last of a three-part series on the benefits of cloud-native commerce. The first post focused on what cloud-native technology is and its benefits, and the second post focused on how technology providers that focus on ease of use and enabling low-code/no-code capabilities can unlock the full benefits of cloud-native for many organizations.
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To read part 2 go here