Published: February 4, 2019 - 16:00

To Buy or Build: When Custom Applications Become Cumbersome

To buy or build is a question many companies struggle with as they progress their digital transformation. In the past, “out-of-the-box” solutions used to be synonymous with rigid and inflexibility, so the concept of custom-built to exact specifications is enticing. And, the concept of a custom-built insight engine made to your company’s specifications that can meet your exact needs seems like a no-brainer.

Custom software is often useful for precise short-term fixes, but it will lack the desired longer-term impact as the skills gap in the IT industry reaches a point where ‘custom’ becomes cumbersome. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be roughly 1.3 million occupational openings for IT professionals by 2026. As these job openings continue to grow without enough candidates or internal knowledge to fill the gap, the manpower needed to make the investment of a custom-built software application worthwhile won’t be readily available. A custom piece of software is worthless to a business if there’s no team in place to maintain it.

In the past, businesses often viewed buying packaged software as a “fast and cheap” solution. In reality, the sophistication of these products has progressed to the point that they can fit any company’s needs without increasing demands on IT staff. As you evaluate how to implement an Insight engine that works best for your business and challenges, consider the following benefits that result from selecting a standard product.

Speed

Companies don’t want to create and maintain their own insight engine, they care about getting a solution for a business problem – an answer to the lack of insights in today’s data-driven world.

Between the infrastructure concepts, requirements engineering and hardware systems, a custom-built Insight engine can take months to years of development before the final product is ready to fully deploy. A standard product allows IT to skip a drawn-out development process and quickly get the benefits from a fully-functioning product. As employees have come to expect fast answers and on-demand knowledge in their lives now, that same expectation for software’s speed of installation should be no exception.

Flexibility

As mentioned above, standard features do not mean unaccommodating; today, it means that the product has been finely tuned to meet the needs of a customer base. Each of those customers has different needs or priorities – some may need a multitude of connectors to integrate across departments while others may require advanced Natural Language Processing to process the acronyms and internal jargon that are part of the company vernacular.  No matter what the requirements, the best standard products allow the customers to be in control and adjust the features to meet their needs. Those that don’t are the ones that gives out-of-the-box solutions a bad reputation.

Undoubtedly the “buy vs. build” debate will continue. As IT teams struggle to keep up with an ever-growing workload and the need for IT talent grows, the impact of a standard product that prioritizes ease-of-use and quick deployment should not be underestimated as an answer to cumbersome custom builds.