Why We Aren't in the Application Business

Hello! As the president, CEO, and founder of Inductive Automation, I’d like to welcome you to our new company blog. With so much growth happening in the Ignition community, and with so much change taking place in the industry, there are more exciting things going on than we can possibly keep to ourselves. Our community is central to what we do as a company, and we believe that the more we share, the stronger the community gets. That’s why I and other IA team members will be posting here on a regular basis. We’d like this blog to be a place you can visit to quickly gain some useful tips, hear what we’re talking and thinking about lately, learn about recent and upcoming events, and get glimpses “behind the scenes” here at IA. Feel free to leave comments or contact us about what you read here, because we want you to be part of this conversation!

I’d like to kick off this first post by writing about a realization that I recently had about our software. 

Our company has recently interviewed a dozen or so HRM (Human Resources Management) software vendors because we’ve grown to that point. While we knew we could build one in Ignition, we figured we could come up faster and inherit expertise by buying a ready-built solution. However, we ended up rolling our own with Ignition. Why?
The ready-built solutions we examined fell into two camps: SaaS (Software as a Service) and on-premise applications with perpetual licenses. What they both had in common were excessive complexity and, oddly enough, a lack of features. In fact, we ruled out the majority of them on lack of features right away. This is probably because we’re an AAP (Affirmative Action) company, which involves quite a bit of administrative tracking.
The remaining companies included SaaS vendors and one of them had functionality that could have worked for us, but we were concerned about data security. How could we ensure that our sensitive HR data was safe? We weren’t satisfied they could adequately secure our data since this aspect was completely out of our control. So we inquired about on-premise options but we were told it wasn’t an option. 
After vetting out the remaining vendors, the equation tipped toward rolling our own solution. But the process caused me to see some obvious things. It appeared to me that these ready-built solutions were originally built for a single customer. Then they were expanded to accommodate the requirements of the next customer, and the next, and so on until finally, they had massive configuration options which wouldn’t make much sense unless you’d experienced the whole developmental track. So what you end up with is an “average” solution for the mythical “average” end-user and a lot of unneeded complexity.
Certain industry pundits have argued against “rolling one’s own,” saying many projects never seem to get finished. I could agree with that statement if “rolling your own” means writing it in one of the common programming languages from the ground up. But with Ignition, that’s not the case. Ignition gives you maximum flexibility and handles all the hard stuff for you. Stuff can be built and deployed fast. Changes can be made rapidly and rolled out instantly. The hardest part is deciding what to build. The upside, however, is you get exactly what you want without compromise. 
Think about it. If you have to change your business to fit your software, aren’t you sacrificing your best practices and becoming “average”? 
The whole HRM exercise caused me to realize there is a vast difference between application-building tools and applications. Recognizing this difference is really important for us to maintain our focus as a company. We aren’t in the application business. We build and support a platform for rapidly building the application of your dreams. That’s what we are. 


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Steve Hechtman
Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors / Inductive Automation
Steve Hechtman is the Founder of Inductive Automation and served as the company's President and CEO from 2003 to 2022. In Steve's current role as Executive Chairman, Steve guides the company's long-term direction and growth. When Steve started Inductive Automation in 2003, the purpose was to sidestep the status quo and all of its frustrations and deliver something new and unprecedented that could enable industrial controls professionals to deliver unheard-of value to their customers. After 25 years of owning a controls systems integration business, Steve was finally fed up with poor software and painful licensing. The inevitable result was to create Inductive Automation and Ignition. Steve's motto, and one of the company's core principles, is that Ignition by Inductive Automation must make industrial integration easy, fun, and affordable. Under Steve's visionary leadership, the company has achieved phenomenal success by bringing state-of-the-art, innovative, and easy-to-use technologies to the industrial controls marketplace. Since 2003, Inductive Automation has experienced astounding year-over-year growth. It has gone from a small company to an industry powerhouse with Ignition installations in nearly every industry and more than 100 countries. The company's phenomenal success can be attributed to following the founding principles Steve established — the New Technology Model, New Licensing Model, New Business Model, and New Ethical Model — that continue to guide it today.