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The Case for Custom Development

Jesse Sie | Nov. 22, 2011
Enterprise software has been available for all core corporate functions. Yet, some CIOs choose to customise their software from scratch. CIO Asia discovers why.

Enterprise software has been available for all core corporate functions. Yet, some CIOs choose to customise their software from scratch. CIO Asia discovers why.


Despite the availability of enterprise-class software solutions, innovative CIOs have always attempted to build their own IT systems to create that competitive advantage for their unique businesses propositions. After all, the golden chalice of today's business world is about gaining agility. And CIOs recognise the need to differentiate their organisations from competitors, optimise their business processes and increase customer satisfaction. 

To find out how CIOs are accomplishing this, CIO Asia organised an exclusive CIO Breakfast Roundtable on 6 October 2011, themed "Increasing Competitive Differentiation with Custom Development". 

Sponsored by SAP, seven senior executives from different industries came together at The China Club in Singapore to engage in a friendly and insightful peer-to-peer dialogue.

The session kicked off with the revealing of a finding of the recently concluded "State of the Asian CXO" survey conducted by CIO Asia. According to the survey, the top IT skill set that Asia Pacific employers look for is application management, followed by infrastructure technology, networking, security and database management.

"Today we are seeing companies and businesses wanting to be more agile and move ahead of the competition," said T.C. Seow, editor of CIO Asia and moderator of the roundtable. "They are looking at small tools, which enable them to customise and deliver services as they go along."


The Appeal Of Custom Development

By all accounts, custom development is an attractive option for CIOs. Promising a shorter application development cycle, which in turn gives businesses a competitive advantage, the appeal was obvious. But to hear SAP talking about custom development came as a surprise to the participants, who all previously held the impression that SAP only produced enterprise-class applications that needed a long time to hatch.

First to express his surprise and concerns was Stephen Wong, Head of Global Demand, Novartis Asia Pacific Pharmaceuticals Pte Ltd. He asked the SAP representatives how they incorporate their solutions roadmap for new features into the discussion with their customers. "If we can understand your roadmap when we work with you for custom development projects, we can then integrate those future plans to protect our investments," said Wong.

Chris Rhame, Head of Custom Development, SAP Asia Pacific Japan, said: "With respect to how do you protect your investment, our custom development programme is very unique. First of all, we try to find out what the organisation is trying to achieve. And when we can monetise value through a particular development it becomes more meaningful for CXOs looking out for these value propositions." 

"This is an important piece for organisations, especially around intellectual property and certain unique business models our customers have in terms of what they do and how they go-to-market," said Mike Bramwell, Head of Field Services, SAP Southeast Asia.


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