Software is the foundation of digital business. But are vehicle rental operators seeing the software forest for the trees?
In the battle for market presence and stability in a turbulent business world, digital solutions are being relied on more than ever to increase visibility and relevance to customers.
In our own corner of the vehicle rental solutions market, we want to see a change in how successful software solutions are implemented. To that end, we urge operators to think bigger, look bigger, and innovate bigger.
A single piece of software offers a single business solution. But what if every software platform worked to the same end, working as one to improve your every business outcome?
This is where expanding your vehicle rental digital strategy from software platform to software ecosystem makes the most impact.
So what exactly is a software ecosystem and how can it help rental operators digitise more effectively?
What is standalone, or individual, software?
Software can best be described as “a set of instructions, data or programs used to operate computers and execute specific tasks”. It literally “lives in a world all its own and serves one purpose”.
There are numerous types of software, including application software, system software, programming software, middleware and driver software, all of which “provides the directions and data computers need to work and meet users' needs”.
What is a software ecosystem?
“The term "ecosystem" describes not only what tools you’re using, but also how they interact with one another”.
A software ecosystem is a “collection of tech solutions that a certain company uses to run its business, and how these solutions connect with each other”. Critically, an ecosystem refers to every software solution in use, and how they work in context with the other.
What are the key differences between standalone Software and a Software Ecosystem?
Scope and functionality -
In today’s digital age, software has to interact. For those interactions to work to the benefit of the company and customer/user, those software interactions have to be mutually beneficial, working towards shared goals by utilising and harnessing the individual perks of each software system or platform together.
Standalone software does not offer cross-software functionality. A software ecosystem provides scope for business evolution and expansion as the world increasingly goes online through multiple software systems working together.
Collaboration and integration -
The soul of a software ecosystem lies in its integrated nature - how each digital touch point works towards a goal, and how each software system communicates with the other to create seamless experiences.
Software systems, on their own, do not collaborate with other systems. Ecosystems make it so they do.
User experience and Customisation -
The scale and scope of a well-built software ecosystem provides a hyper-competitive and customisable user experience.
Single software systems or platform solutions offer limited, product-specific user interactions and data. But through the collation and parsing of data via multiple software systems and platforms, a thorough and complete user identity is created, thereby bettering user experience via offering more personalised, more relevant products, offers or services.
Flexibility and scalability -
Software ecosystems are constantly evolving stacks of ever-changing technical brilliance - flexibility of ecosystem build comes naturally.
There is no one way to build an ecosystem - business success lies in how ecosystems react flexibly, and this flexibility offers scalability for organisations.
What are the advantages of Software Ecosystems over standalone Software?
Enhanced functionality through integration -
Software ecosystems are on track to generate “more than 30 per cent of global corporate revenue” by 2025. This is a mark of how effective and in-demand software ecosystems are for digital functionality in the near future.
Increased innovation and development -
Successful sector-specific digital innovation strategies require, above all else, alignment of technical usability built around shared goals.
A McKinsey report highlights network effects as key to this - “ecosystems bridge openings along the value chain, they create a customer-centric, unified value proposition in which users can enjoy an end-to-end experience”.
Improved user experience and customisation options -
The end-user experience is where the true value of a well-curated software ecosystem is seen. Consider the value of an ecosystem for a vehicle rental operator who needs plug-in inventory/fleet management, telematics, security functionality and customer feedback and payment information all in one place - Ecosystem customisation breeds experience!