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What are examples of bespoke software?

by FMS Team

19.05.2022

Light Bulb Moment

In this post we are going to look at some examples of bespoke software. The interesting thing is that you can find them everywhere. Nearly all (if not all) the biggest companies in the word will have some bespoke software in use. Some is hidden away and we will never get to know about it, but some have it on show.

Rather than just listing companies below we have looked at a few types of software and the companies who have gone down the bespoke software route.

E-Commerce

Today, if you want to sell your products online, there are some really quick options. You could buy or subscribe to an off-the-shelf webstore software (like the amazing Shopify) or you can become a seller on an already established webstore, like our first example of bespoke software, Amazon.

Amazon Logo

Why did Amazon develop their own bespoke e-commerce platform? The primary driver was probably necessity. Whilst there were online retailers before Amazon started in 1994, they were still early enough in a new technology that off-the-shelf e-commerce platforms were few and far between. For example, two of the most well-known and used platforms today were over a decade away from being released. Shopify in 2006 and Magento (now Adobe Commerce) in 2007.

Social Network

There were some big social networks before Facebook, founded in 2004. Can anyone remember Friendster (founded in 2003)? More probably remember the even more popular MySpace (also founded in 2003).

Again, at the time that all of these platforms launched there was not really any alternative to developing their own bespoke solutions. Today it is a bit different, you can get open source and off-the-shelf paid for social network software. In reality though, new social networks tend to be always bespoke, either because they are for niche groups of users (like the platform we developed for car enthusiasts) or they need to be unique enough to make users want to be on their platform, probably as well as Facebook. For example, Twitter and Instagram.

Booking Software

This is another type of software where there are many examples of companies using their own bespoke solution. It is also one where there are plenty of off-the-shelf solutions that are available. In fact, many hotels will use off-the-shelf booking software on their own site whilst also listing on all the other big booking sites like Expedia and Booking.com, which are both examples of bespoke software.

However, when a couple of friends came up with the idea that if they put a blow-up bed (Airbed) in their living room they could turn their place into a cheap bed & breakfast, a completely new type of booking platform was required, where users could both be the bed & breakfast proprietor and guest.  Airbnb was born (originally it went by the name AirBed and Breakfast). Initially it was very simple website and didn’t need a full-blown off-the-shelf package and nothing was available on the market to do what they needed as they started to expand, so the company had to go down the bespoke route.  

Other Examples

In the opening paragraph we said there were examples everywhere. So here is a few more that could have easily been included.

Video streaming software such as that developed by Netflix, YouTube or BBC iPlayer.  

Even though most car companies develop their own software it has proven to be difficult to beat Google with Android Auto or Apple with Car Play. Tesla though developed their own, which is often regarded as market leading. In fact, many people think of Tesla as a technology company first, car manufacturer second.

Getting a taxi was taken to a whole new level by Uber, who facilitate a global network of independent taxis through their software platform.

Finally, for this post, would Apple have been as successful if they had used someone else’s operating system on their phones. For all of its flaws it was designed in a way that meant users didn’t even need a manual to use the phone.

Summary

In this post we could have concentrated on some of the bespoke software we have developed but we are all surrounded by examples in use by some of the world’s biggest companies.  We could have continued with hundreds, if not thousands, of more examples. That only includes the software that is public facing, even the companies above will have more software they have developed that we never see or hear about.

Why did they go down this route? Well most of the examples above it was out of necessity at the time. There being no suitable off-the-shelf software to meet their needs forced them to develop their own. The bespoke software they use is now such a core component of their business, there ability to adapt and keep moving forward, that we would be surprised if they ever swap it out for an off-the-shelf solution. Amazon is unlikely to drop their bespoke platform for Shopify.

If your business has a process that could be improved or transformed by software and you can’t find the off-the-shelf software that can meet your needs then speak to us about what is possible with your own bespoke solution.

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