RAD v Bespokewhich is better for business?

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For the past half-year or so, we have been holding monthly oneday training sessions for resellers, aimed at providing a good grounding in the use of Pendulum, a RAD tool for mobile devices powered by Microsofts fastgrowing Pocket PC family. Each one of these sessions has been fully subscribed, suggesting that there is widespread acceptance of this easy route to creating and delivering solutions. However, when we follow up our e-marketing activities and speak to customers about these opportunities, at least half are quite disdainful about the value of RAD tools. Were programmers, they say. We have no need of such products.

It has to be said that some contempt is both understandable and justified. Developing solutions with RAD tools often requires compromises in the end-users application, and the more sophisticated or complex the application, the more likely it is that RAD tools will be found wanting. The purity of proper programming enables developers to create a 100% match to the customers specification, whereas a RAD tool might have to cut corners, achieving perhaps 85%.

Price of development

Where the application involves a substantial investment in hardware, the cost of traditional bespoke development can be borne within the overall project budget; when amortized over several hundred users, its impact is diminished. In the case of smaller implementations, the price of development can sink the project. This is where a RAD tool could enable the reseller to retrieve the situation, and the VAR must make a choice. After all, nought per cent of nothing is not a lot, to put it politely.

Lower cost is not the only criterion for choosing RAD tools over bespoke development. Sometimes speed of implementation is a key factor. Under certain circumstances, a RAD tool can enable a reseller to deliver a solution within the sort of time constraints that would be impossible with traditional programming. There are also occasions when the end-user wishes to trial an application on a reduced scale, before rolling it out to a full implementation. Again, RAD tools can provide a fast, cost-effective route for pilot projects.

Feedback from many of our resellers indicates that end-users are increasingly demanding solutions created with RAD tools. The reason? Each time they wish to modify their custom-made system, they have to return to the original supplier and face significant time and cost implications. If their solution is created with a RAD tool of their choosing, they have the option to learn the skills to enable them to implement changes in-house. While this may deprive the reseller of some potential revenue, the satisfied customer is more likely to react favourably to the resellers requests for references, testimonials, PR/case study cooperation, etc.

Burgeoning demand

At Paradigm we sell a range of RAD tools, and we offer training to resellers who are new to using them. For DOS-based mobile devices, still popular for applications where stability and a
simple user interface are required, we sell MCL and TAAPS. For the burgeoning demand for hardware powered by derivatives of Microsofts Windows mobile operating systems, Pendulum is
currently showing the way. Our resellers have sold this successful development environment to end-users such as BP, the Metropolitan Police Service, Nationwide Building Society, the RAC and Serco.

Of course RAD tools are never going to replace programmers, and there will always be a demand for bespoke solutions. However, like all short cuts, theyre not going to be uninvented. And with multinational corporations specifying one RAD tool or another for their global mobile
applications, resellers who ignore these software products may be overlooking lucrative sales opportunities.

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