Saugatuck’s 2013 Cloud Survey found that enterprise buyers increasingly prefer suite solutions versus best-of-breed or loosely-coupled Cloud solutions across all business application segments and categories. Respondents clearly still believe there are definite advantages to traditional-style, single-vendor suites for business management applications. The underlying rationale likely includes “guaranteed” or implied levels of interoperability, similarity in interfaces, and coordinated / single-point support. But respondents may also not – yet – understand the integrative capabilities of Cloud when it comes to complex, disparate, and loosely-coupled business applications.

Why is it Happening?

In June 2013, Saugatuck conducted its annual Cloud buyer demand survey – which this year included 218 senior IT, business and finance executives across a wide range of company sizes and geographies. More than eighty percent of the participants held titles of Director or above, with a wide range of industries represented.

One particularly interesting outcome illustrated a very strong preference for Cloud solution suites from a single provider, as opposed to best of breed offerings that require integration with other related solutions or de facto suites from multiple providers that may offer loose coupling.

The survey question:

How do you prefer to acquire each of the following broad categories of business software? As a stand-alone “best-of-breed” point solution? As part of an integrated suite of software from a single provider? Or as part of a loosely-coupled or multi-vendor suite (ad- hoc integration or platform-supported)? This is not your opinion; this is/these are your position support statement(s).

Here is a particularly telling chart that shows the preferences by color, in which the suite solution is red, the best of breed solution is blue and the loosely coupled multi-vendor solution is green (See Figure 1 - Suites Win v. Best of Breed and Loosely-Coupled Cloud Solutions):

Figure 1: Suites Win v. Best of Breed and Loosely-Coupled Cloud Solutions
Source: Saugatuck Technology, 2013 Cloud Survey, N=218 (global), June 2013.

What is clear is that there is a broad, majority preference for integrated Business Suites provided by a single vendor – across the range of business software categories that we sampled. While not uniform, the Business Suite preference ranges narrowly from 43 percent to 59 percent (with most categories between 51 and 59 percent).

Preference toward best-of-breed solutions ranges more broadly from 17 to 36 percent, according to the type of solution, from CRM (highest share) to Supply Chain (lowest). Interestingly, preference toward loosely-coupled suites provided by a single vendor or multiple vendors nearly matched the rates achieved by best-of-breed solutions.

As the Cloud solutions get more complex and deeper into the enterprise, the trend toward single-vendor, integrated business suites is clearly taking root, across all solution categories. While it is often difficult to compare survey results against studies from previous (due to sampling differences), in general our research indicates that the preference toward both single-vendor and multi-vendor (loosely-coupled) suites is not only dominate, but growing, relative to best-of-breed offerings.

This blog originally appeared at Saugatuck Lens360.