One of the things that I was told in my two years of working in the software supplier world was that “there are only two sorts of people; those who make products and those who sell products”. As on the day I heard it, I still believe that there is a one word, Anglo-Saxon retort to that which was made very famous by The Sex Pistols in the 1970s.
However, the make products/sell products split quite nicely encapsulates the next quadrant of our Digital Architecture framework – Production services that make up the internal, but core product or service-focused activities, people and systems found in a company.
Selling products, and the systems and processes to support such activity, are another area where many companies have an aged legacy of systems. Interestingly in my experience, they are often quite heavily customised, or even bespoke, to the organisation because the products or services that they have, and the way in which they sell them, can often be quite unique to that particular business (even if the underlying principals are not really that different to their competitors).
I’ve also worked in a good few organisations over the years where the very idea of what the inventory of products available to sell to clients or customers is very elastic; in the world of selling TV programmes to broadcasters, for example, rights would be sold on the basis of periods of time, numbers of transmissions, the channel by which they’d be transmitted (terrestrial, satellite, cable, on demand, online etc), language, exclusivity by time and/or territory and so on. With so many dimensions by which a programme could be sold, there was also huge complexity in how that could be processed and captured which were beyond the capability of off-the-shelf sales order processing systems.
As we will see a bit later in this series, these internal sales functions, processes and systems are becoming increasingly exposed through technology to customers. The joins between internal and external, or support and core services are often where there is greatest need to invest and manage things closely.
The “making products” side of things is an area which will be encapsulated into software to differing degrees within different industries. Most paper-based activities these days have become digital, whether the move from typewriters to word processing, drawing board to CAD, or film to digital photography. In the creative industries, it’s common now to find the entire working process happening in the digital realm, often with the Adobe Creative Suite at the core. Managing all of these digital assets, during and after production, becomes another import function (although is underdeveloped in many companies). All of this feeds out into the right-hand column of the actual product or service – more on that next.