Build vs. Buy: Seamless Integration


In today's digital age, connectivity is vital for business success. Regardless of company size, collaboration and efficient data exchange are essential in a dynamic market. When adopting new technology, prioritizing seamless integration is crucial, whether you opt to build or buy. This Forbes article emphasizes that integration is as significant as differentiation and scalability and poses essential questions for executives to consider when making the build versus buy decision.

When making the decision to build vs buy, consider these 3 questions when prioritizing seamless integration.

1. How accessible is your data?

The flow of data and how easily it is shared across the organization directly correlates to your ability to support rapid change. In short, data drives innovation. When data integration is seamless and business processes are optimized, it can inform catalytic decisions and drive growth. Conversely, when data access is encumbered or complicated, it handicaps your agility, leading to a lack of responsiveness and preparedness for change.

If an out-of-the-box solution can handle the amount of data required for your business and makes integration simple, it could be a good choice. But if you anticipate awkward workarounds to ensure data is not siloed, I’d be wary. It cannot be overstated that easy access to data across the entire organization is vital. The flow of data unlocks agility, and the ability to keep up with changing customer demands can make or break a company.

Consider this: The enterprise integration market, valued at $9.65 billion in 2020, is expected to exceed $22.69 billion by 2026. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 15.42%! What does this prove? Businesses are doubling down on data integration because they understand data is critical to staying afloat in a dynamic market. Make sure your next technology investment doesn’t overlook data integration

2. Can the system support future integrations?

Another essential aspect to consider is future integrations. An out-of-the-box solution may have API integrations to connect to your existing applications, but will it support your future road map? When specific needs are not API enabled, organizations are forced to choose whether to wait on the application provider to create the API or build a workaround—or both. Too many workarounds lead to slower applications, increased complexity across the organization and an inability to scale.

When you build a custom solution, you can create APIs tailored to your needs. No workarounds are needed to connect applications, reducing complexity and increasing agility. If an out-of-the-box solution meets 99% of your current and future needs, go ahead and buy it—no need to reinvent the wheel. But, for parts of the business that are innovating rapidly, going custom may be the wiser choice. While you may have a multiyear road map, the reality is that none of us know what the next disruptive innovation will be.

3. What happens when something breaks?

A common myth about SaaS providers is that buying an out-of-the-box solution reduces complexity because there is a single point of contact to call for issues like bugs in integration or a faulty API. While that may be true, what happens after you make that call?

Usually, providers have guaranteed response times (typically 24-48 hours in the form of a response ticket), but they don’t guarantee a timeline to find a solution. Often, the solution to the problem requires an upgrade and additional investment or requires the provider to build out new capabilities. In that case, you are at the mercy of their enhancement timelines, relying on your clout with the provider to prioritize your company’s needs. Or, in the case of system implementer models, the providers will build out the enhancement for you but require a detailed scope of work and hefty fees.

When you factor in the reality of what happens after you make the call, it may make going custom more attractive. You’ll have much more control when “making the call” looks like walking down the hall to your single point of contact in IT, who can provide you with timely updates and prioritize an upgrade or bug fix based on your overall business needs.

Whatever you choose, make sure it drives value.

So, should you build or buy? In Tim’s opinion, the decision is nuanced. It’s not as easy as simply calculating the total cost of ownership or checking the boxes on a feature wish list. It’s not always a cut-and-dry answer.

If you measure the costs and benefits of your options through the lenses of differentiation, scalability and integration, the right choice will become clear. Whatever path you choose, make sure it brings tangible, long-term value to your company.

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Tim Mitrovich

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