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ATS Platform Posturing

Posted by Colin Kingsbury

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May 22, 2006 1:35:00 PM

I am getting a kick out of the scrap between Martin Snyder and Bob Nelson, the head dogs of PCRecruiter and CBizOne respectively. It's a perfect illustration of how legitimate technical discussions quickly devolve into pointless posturing that has little practical meaning for buyers.

On the surface they are debating the merits of thick versus thin clients, or, browser-based versus installed applications if you prefer. If you are a software developer or product manager, this is all you talk about these days. But as an ATS buyer, the talking points flying between these two justly-respected industry veterans are not worth the time it takes to read them.

Every point made by both gentlemen strikes me as honest and correct, but utterly irrelevant to a buyer. Every one of them needs to have the phrase "but it will depend on your situation" added at the end. All their points are generally true but ultimately dependent on local conditions.

Look at it this way: an airplane travels much faster than a car, but if you're traveling between Boston and Albany (a little under 200 miles), it may be faster door-to-door to take a car. Comparing "the web platform" to "the installed platform" as Snyder and Nelson are doing is like discussing whether flying or driving will be faster without defining the trip to be taken. Especially if the two parties debating are a limo driver and an airline pilot.

Part of the reason vendors love to talk about platforms is because it means a lot to us. Choosing how to architect your application is perhaps the single most consequential decision a software company will make. Here at HRMDirect we are enthusiastic about the Software-as-a-Service/Web platform because we believe it is the [u]best platform for us.[/u] Ultimately, the benefits get passed on to our customers in terms of better features and lower prices, but that's a different discussion.

For someone buying an applicant tracking system, the choice is not between broad platforms but specific products and vendors. Chances are that if one platform really is much better than the other for your situation, then you will know it pretty early in the process. For instance, large multinationals with highly-integrated ERP systems are going to self-host an application they can integrate into their existing stack, with that requirement driving the rest of the process for better or worse.

As a customer, the only thing that matters to you is the product that is actually staring you back in the face every day. If you are wondering which platform is better, then odds are the answer is "neither." While the self-hosted/thick-client app may run faster, the web-based one may be much more user-friendly. Your IT department may be great at supporting applications, or terrible. So take the car(s) for a test drive, and make your choice accordingly. The rest is just hot air and conjecture, so choose accordingly.