Here is your bag of parts, sir

At some point in time during the past couple of years, vendors quit selling “solutions” and are now selling bags of parts. They have an app to do this part and a web site to do this. Their Windows-PC software manages this part on your desktop, doesn’t do Macs, iPads or iPhones. And the e-commerce on your website? Well, they don’t know how to do that, but they are pretty sure it’s easy. After all, Amazon.com is doing it.

“Do you want to talk to our tech people?” the sales person asks.

And you talk to their tech people but the tech people only know how to screw in this part to that other part. They don’t know (or care) how the whole thing works. Their job is only to get you to understand how their parts works.

“We have an API. Would you like me to send you over a fifty-page DND?”

You hang up, frustrated that nobody quite knows how all the parts fit together so you can just get on with the business of managing your business.

Instagram is a perfect example of a “parts” company. They only do one thing well; enable you to take photos and share them with your friends. Remember the Milk is another “parts” company that does to do list well but does not integrate at all with your other solutions. Oh, sure they have an API, but unless you know how to hook that in this and that, you won’t use it. Survey Monkey does great surveys; Constant Contact sends out email and Aweber manages your subscription list but each requires a high level of cajoling, importing and exporting to kinda-sorta get close to what you want, but not really. In each case, you need to learn new tools to make it all work.

And then there is the job of integrating that data smartly into your back end business systems and front end web site. Most often, people just give up and learn to live with the duct tape

Few companies are selling “solutions” anymore. That is too hard. They are all now selling bags of parts and they expect you to put it all together.

Welcome to IKEA Nation.

It’s a good thing you have the Google and DIY genes.

Adapted from a version published on our soccer tournament brand blog, TourneyCentral.