A marketplace approach to scaling software

Most multinational corporations are developing outstanding software in various business units or even in regional branch offices and specialist divisions. However, it is pure wishful thinking in many cases to assume this software is in widespread use across the enterprise. The result is duplicate developments, gaps in functionality and delays in digitalization – not a situation decision-makers are willing to accept given the immense pressure to digitally transform and a serious lack of developer capacity.

“Software” can take on many forms: artificial intelligence models, fully executable programs, APIs, tools, etc. Companies often develop the software in-house in an effort to automate business processes, enhance decision or product quality, and to make digital services available to customers. In most cases, however, this software is rarely available enterprise-wide, which keeps most users from making the most of the innovation. Whether the obstacles in question have geographical, technical, legal or tax reasons, companies are losing out on valuable competitive advantage.

In other words, software is an important resource for today’s companies, but in contrast to physical resources, sharing software allows multiple people to avail of the resource at virtually no marginal cost. Sharing, in this context, is the rising tide that lifts all boats – i.e., units – in the enterprise.

The marketplace approach

To achieve this, business units need an incentive to develop their own software and make it available to other units. So, it makes a lot of sense – not only for tax purposes – to establish a pricing model for this software that gives every unit involved a stake in the dedicated investments. A marketplace is clearly the best approach here.

Marketplaces – in other words, platforms that bring together stakeholders from the supply and the demand side and allow them to trade based on rules set by the head office – offer enterprises an opportunity to design their business processes in compliance with in-house governance rules, while at the same time allowing business units to share software with minimal friction. These are just some of the benefits of such platforms:

  • Creating transparency: The platform needs a catalog of applications to give users an overview of the solutions on offer within the company. This not only accelerates discovery; it also prevents duplicate developments.
  • Processing purchases: There should be an app store feature on the platform allowing users to purchase a license for any software on offer and providing a digital process for the contractual formalities.
  • Ensuring availability: To ensure fast, trouble-free use of the software, the platform must provide an automated process to publish the software while also making it available to internal and in some cases external users. Seamless management of the purchases is an important factor for creators of the software as well as its users. This includes invoicing for the use of the software.

A marketplace like this works from both a business and a technological perspective. The business side focuses primarily on making the solutions user friendly, by providing users fast responses and software demos. But it is also important to offer flexible pricing and pay-as-you-go billing (e.g., based on the number of users or API calls).

On the technical side, marketplaces provide reference architecture that makes it easier for developers to scale their software solutions, whether it is providing cloud infrastructure or reducing the software developer’s workload by taking over various tasks required to turn even minor code into a full-fledged software product.

Accelerating technical deployment and increasing security

Let’s say a business unit trained an AI model and wants to make it available to other business units within the group. This will require various layers of functionality around the model. First of all, you need a runtime environment, e.g., a cloud-based Kubernetes cluster, data, etc. You also need an access management tool, which in many corporate groups, is the single sign-on function employees use to log into the company’s IT system. On the third layer, you need billing features, i.e., there must be a way to measure the usage or the usage behavior for the software on offer that is linked to the agreed pricing model.

An enterprise will need the layers outlined here for essentially any proprietary software if they want to turn code into a product. A platform can offer standardized functions that will enable developers to concentrate solely on achieving the desired logic in the software. This standardization alone will save a huge number of developer hours and accelerate the overall development timeline. It also helps developers achieve a higher maturity level and strict security standards much faster.

The Deloitte SaaS marketplace

Deloitte has developed its own platform in-house to collect the software developed in all of our regional offices and business divisions and make it available at the push of a button to our 345,000 employees worldwide. This enables Deloitte to provide proprietary software solutions originally developed in other business divisions and countries to local clients at record speed.

Deloitte has also begun giving clients access to this platform as a “white label” solution under the name CAMPfire: The Corporate Application Management Platform is a software product that integrates with a variety of cloud providers and can easily be adapted to client-specific IT infrastructure. That keeps the data and the software applications entirely within the client’s own enterprise, with Deloitte in the role of platform orchestrator. For more information, visit https://deloittecampfire.com/.

The Author:
Dr. Jan-Niklas Keltsch is Director at Deloitte Consulting and responsible for the CAMPfire product, an enterprise SaaS marketplace solution and for Deloitte’s own internal global marketplace deloitte.ai, a platform designed to scale artificial intelligence solutions. Before joining Deloitte, Dr. Keltsch was the CEO of a venture capital firm and the founder of a start-up.