The Myth of the All-In-One Platform

You’ve reached the point where you and your team are using too many tools.

Switching between them has become a hassle. Your team complains of the growing complexity to do even simple things. It’s time for a change.

The solution to your problems is clear: it’s time to put everything into one place.

The most harmful ideas are bad ideas that look like good ones

The idea of an all-in-one platform is tempting. Consolidating all software capabilities into one internal tool seems like a great way to simplify operations, increase productivity, and save money.

It’s also what many software platforms want you to think. They will claim to offer everything your business needs, out of the box. They will promise to save you time and money by eliminating the need to use multiple tools.

I have yet to see one business powered on just a few platforms. And in a rapidly-changing environment, betting everything on one or a few vendors actually seems like the riskiest thing to do.

Let’s evaluate.

Why we tend to want one platform

There are many valid reasons to want a single platform to manage everything.

To name a few:

  • It’s convenient: using one tool is more convenient than using many tools. You don't have to switch between different interfaces, remember different logins, or learn different interfaces.
  • It’s generally cheaper: you’ll only pay one subscription for one tool, and may get a discount for bundling. You’re getting your company a good deal!
  • All your data in one place: with one platform, you can centralize your data and build all your reportings in the same tool
  • You won’t need to build integrations: an all-in-one platform already works seamlessly with all its components. No need to worry about compatibility issues, data transfer, or version control. Things should already work well with each other.

That all sounds great. And I am certainly forgetting more arguments here. In reality, most of these arguments are bad ideas that look like good ones: it’s not that convenient to use one tool if its UX sucks; it’s rarely the cheaper option; all your data does not need to be in one place, unless we are talking about analytics; and you will still need to do a lot of work integrating and customizing your platform.

You’re better off picking the best tools for each job and making them work together.

Orchestrating specialized tools gives you an edge

Here is why it’s better to build a tools stack of specialized tools that you connect with each other:

  • It’s better to bet on multiple product visions than one: picking a new tool is betting on a new development team, with a particular vision on how a problem should be solved. Unlike incumbents, new tools don’t have the constraint to fit their features into the existing platform. They can zoom in on a narrower problem and attempt to solve it entirely.
  • You get today’s innovation… today: Specialized tools are in the business of innovating. A tool can provide a completely new way of tackling a problem and give your company a temporary advantage. All-in-one platforms are in the business of building what is proven. When innovation arrives on these platforms, it’s often too late.
  • It gives you options: don’t like your email marketing tool? Replace it with a better alternative. Want to test acquisition on Tiktok? There are specialized tools for that. Just test out new solutions regularly, and keep what works for your business.
  • It’s cheaper: yes, if you do this exercise, you will save money on subscription costs. Convenience is priced in, and all-in-one platforms are very good at putting the features you need on their higher paying plans. For example: HubSpot is a great CRM platform, but you need an Enterprise plan to trigger webhooks. With no-code platforms, you can still build missing premium features instead of upgrading and save costs.
  • Connecting tools has become 10x easier: 10 years ago, your only options to connect tools with each other was to ask developers to do it for you. This is no longer true. Integration platforms like Zapier or Make, or a sync platform like Whalesync allow operators to create the missing integrations they need without writing code.

Once you’ve abandoned the idea of the all-in-one platform, a world of infinite combinations and possibilities opens up, where you exact requirements can be met and your expectations exceeded.

So why aren’t we all doing it already?

Sounds good in theory. But who has time to do this in reality?

This alternative way where you build and constantly tweak your tools stack won’t happen by itself. It’s a long journey with massive wins but also its part of failed experiments.  No pain, no gain.

Approach it as an investment in your team’s productivity. To set yourself for success:

  • Make this a strategic topic: make discussing your tools stack a recurring discussion topic within your organization. Set a budget for the tools you use and define objectives in terms of productivity gains you expect to gain from them.
  • Always be on the lookout for new tools: have several people in your organization monitor new tools on the market and attend product demos to understand what these tools could do for you.
  • Have at least one person taking care of internal tools: appoint one person in-house dedicated to maintaining and connecting your tools. If you have a CRM manager in your team, this person should also able to connect tools and create automations outside your CRM.
  • Talk to peers in other companies: which tools are they using for this process? How satisfied are they with it?
  • Get support from experts: consultants and automation specialists who can help you accelerate things with all of the above and train your team on these topics.

We live in the era of specialized tools.

There is a premium for those who do the work of constantly looking for better tools to add to their arsenal.

Forget the all-in-one platform, it’s not a dream worth chasing.

Embrace specialized tools and you and your team will unlock new levels of productivity.