Recently, there have been several articles on the build vs buy discussion and each of them covers the basic pros and cons of, you guessed it, building vs buying. Given my own experience in software and being part of the Matrix team, coupled with current crisis situations and changes happening in the media industry, I think there are a few additional points to consider beyond what these recent articles have shared.
The natural reaction of a software vendor can easily be “we want you to buy this from us.” At Matrix, we have adopted a ‘solution’ mindset that is focused on what is the best possible result for the company and operation at hand, whether it comes from us, another source, and/or a combination. In applying a partner approach we work closely with media companies to identify and deliver solutions that can be customized to advance their specific operation even if that means pushing to develop beyond today’s business rules – because although we value today, it is tomorrow that we need to build for simultaneously.
The Math and Aftermath of the Build Decision
Sometimes it can be frustrating if you cannot find an exact-fit solution for your business. We have all been there. The solutions available appear to be a one-size-fits-all and yet if there is one thing you know to be true; it is that you are not a one-size-fits-all operation! However, when a media company who is not focused on technology development as their primary purpose, takes the jump to going it alone, it can be cause for worry. It is also expensive, both in initial development and to sustain over time.
The key to building a company’s own solution is first outlining an extensive roadmap that accounts for security, data management and quality, short and long-term development and support, as well as interoperability and scalability between systems and across departments, markets, vendors – that’s the “math”. The “aftermath” needs to account for what happens after the initial planning and development into the foreseeable future. It sometimes seems easy to kick the aftermath down the road… but software seems to have its own issues due to how fast companies are moving, changing, merging, and pivoting.
In mapping out such a solution, here are just some of the factors to consider before jumping onto the “Build” wagon:
- The Math
- Is it a successful application or a glorified version of Excel? See ‘Solutioning’ callout.
- Will you have accessibility to crowdsourced ideas of widely released commercial applications?
- Be prepared for technical debt; as you will need the ability to balance the development of new capabilities with the ability to provide continued development into infrastructure, operating systems, external system upgrades, etc.
- Will you be able to extend knowledge at a team level to eliminate bottlenecks and continue operating at full capacity even when one person is out of the office?
- Are you able to accommodate servicing cloud technology, disaster recovery, etc.
- Are you able to secure meetings with integration vendors, and once you do, are you able to keep communication lines open?
- The Aftermath:
- Can you keep up with existing systems, maintenance, and upgrades?
- Can you afford to continue to invest and scale, building exactly what you want?
- Are you able to plan for downturns or changes of directions, such as potential mergers?
- Are you able to stay on top of industry and technology requirements that make it easier for integrations and partnerships?
- Can you accommodate change? It is hard to go back and get funding when your workflow needs to pivot and adapt to emerging opportunities, changing business needs, or new management philosophies.
- Can you, heaven forbid, afford to throw it all away and fail at full cost?
|Sometimes, companies stumble their way into and get caught in the trap of “solutioning”, which gives a false sense of what could be. This is where you take something existing, whether it be a portion of an existing application or an Excel spreadsheet, and dive right into the “but what if it could do this.” For example, “what if we just had one more box on the screen to hold share data”, or “what if we just had a button that ran the download.” In many cases when the solutioning approach is taken, you end up spending more time to gain only limited extra functionality. When you invest the time into searching for or creating the correct, all-encompassing solution, you create a longer front-end approach which results in a more successful end-result for your business.|
Customize your ‘Buy’ to get what you would ‘Build’
At Matrix we provide a pre-existing solution that is highly customizable to accommodate a media company’s unique needs. Our global media ad sales platform, Monarch, is an open platform with an extensive API catalog as well as numerous pre-built, industry-focused integrations. The platform provides field mapping, as well as normalizing data through our Matcher data cleansing services, which allows us to support data movement in a variety of configurations. Between our experience with custom integrations, the flexibility of our configuration and field mapping capabilities, and our matching and data cleansing services, we are able to create a personalized solution – saving our customers time, investment, and the nuisances that come with going it alone ‘build’ approach.
Our solution can accommodate at least 5,600 different configurations, so no one’s off-the-shelf is ever the same as anyone else’s. We help bring our partners and customers to their desired workflows through our open API infrastructure, various filters to manipulate data in millions of different ways so you can find the gems of information needed to find wins, and with consistent support and insights from our Matrix Success Managers, Product, and Development Teams.
The Team Behind the ‘Buy’
As I mentioned earlier, the natural reaction of a software vendor can easily be “we want you to buy from us.” Luckily with Matrix, you do not get a pushy set it and forget it approach. No off-the-shelf solution that comes out of the box in a one-size-fits-all approach. We want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly from pain points, to successes, to future goals- all so that we can together, customize our platform to serve as a launching pad for our customers. Our goal is quite simple: Alleviate our customers’ pain points and uncover opportunities for revenue growth. With consistent support, upgrades, learning opportunities, and a direct human contact (ok, we call them success managers for a reason) you never have to go-it alone – we have a team ready to build, customize, and serve on your behalf. In fact, we take pride in often serving as an extension to our customers’ business and collaborating with them to design and build a sustainable approach at face value.
We would love to hear some of your challenges and to discuss how we can help. Please send us a line!