Bentley Pays ‘Integration Tax’ to Ensure Efficient Operations

by Matt Ball on November 8, 2011

Bentley Systems speaks internally of the ‘integration tax’ that they pay in developing their software with an eye toward cross-platform interoperability and their continued commitment to backward compatibility of their software. Bentley is unique in this regard as most software companies of their tenure have had complete code base transitions that have broken the ability to open and operate old models and files. These commitments to integration and backward compatibility have some limitations in terms of the company’s ability to rapidly incorporate entirely new approaches, however it lends a great deal of stability to their customers’ operations and offers unprecedented integration that is often the reason their solutions are chosen.

A Bentley Systems executive explained that when a large organization is looking for the best solution for a specific operational task that Bentley may not always be that solution, but if a company takes a more holistic and broad-based view that looks at the integration of systems to get a handle on cross-discipline operations, Bentley always wins. The big-picture thinking, and the efficiency gained by this view, has been the exception rather than the norm in most organizations, however, the economic climate with its focus on efficiency is causing more organizations to think more broadly about the benefits of integrated operations.

It’s interesting that this is the first that I’ve heard of this ‘integration tax’ that has been an internal term with Bentley software developers. It seems to me that a whole marketing campaign could use this term to successfully illustrate the company’s commitment to efficient operations. The fact that the company has never forced dramatic change upon their users has helped them build good will with their customers. Their integrated approach has helped many organizations to achieve dramatic efficiency impacts with real cost savings. The company’s continued payment of the ‘integration tax’ displays a refreshing corporate responsibility that takes a long-term view that balances what is possible with what is practical.

In today’s compressed software cycles that have coined the term “Internet time” to describe rapid development, it’s good to balance the benefits of short-term gains in functionality with this company’s  commitment to continuity. Where organizations are getting a handle on complex operations, a long-term and incremental approach always wins out over short-term functionality gains.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dale Lutz November 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Hi Matt – really enjoyed this posting, so much that I decided to post a followup over at http://fme.ly/tax . There definitely is an interesting tension between developing in “internet time” and providing the stability that a large class of users desire.

Matt Ball November 10, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Dale, thanks for your comment and glad that it sparked your own post. The declaration of backward compatibility is certainly akin to corporate responsibility, and I certainly respect the commitment that Safe and Bentley have made. As pressures may mount with open source, this corporate creed can only gain importance.

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