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Build, Buy or Ally – Technology Strategies to Deliver Value

Manager or Industrial engineer working and control robotic withWhen your organization encounters a need for a new technology solution, you’re faced with a dilemma. Do you build something custom with internal resources? Do you buy a commercially available product that is then either customized to fit your business needs or taken as is out of the box? Do you find a partner that could speed up your time to market or lower the entry cost for the solution? All three are viable options when used in the correct scenarios.

What are some questions you can ask that will help guide your team to choose the correct option? Here are some suggestions for you to consider.

  • Does the solution fit with your organization’s technology architecture strategy?
  • Does the technology give you a first-mover advantage?
  • Is there an existing solution that fits most or all the technical requirements?
  • Will a successful implementation of the solution deepen relationships or build trust with your customer?
  • Are other solutions cost-prohibitive or would they prevent you from obtaining an acceptable ROI?
  • Do you have internal expertise to build the solution? Or do you have available, reputable and cost-effective partners at your disposal?
  • Are there customer experience, reliability or other serious concerns about existing solutions on the market?

Each question begins to build a case that points you to a specific strategy. If a piece of technology is opening a new market or fundamentally changing an existing one, the company that gets there first will often have a sizeable advantage over fast-followers or laggards. Obviously, you will need to use a build or ally strategy in order to meet your objectives. If you have a strong technology factory, build it yourself. If others are on the same path and you can join resources to get there faster, ally with them. This is just a single example of how the answers to these key questions can guide your decision.

Many technologies are done well by multiple firms, and it is often difficult, time consuming and cost prohibitive to internally recreate the same value you could receive by implementing the off-the-shelf product. Best practices that have already been vetted by other customers are often available out of the box with a third-party solution, providing additional value to your organization or product.

Leaders need to examine and catalog their team’s capability to implement each strategy. Do you have the ability to easily onboard, configure, integrate and scale a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solution? Do you have a robust R&D team that can create, validate and test physical or digital products? Are you able to leverage partnerships and networks to invest in a solution that hits the market before either party would be able to on their own? If objectivity is difficult to obtain from internal observers, leverage a trusted third party to give you an unbiased view of your organization. From there you are able to invest in people, processes and tools that will help close the findings.

A key differentiator for us at FTI is our expert ability to provide end-to-end solutions and add value for our customer wherever we can. Our teams provide holistic solutions from ideation to implementation, from proving what is possible to ensuring your facilities are operating at peak performance long after your solution is implemented. Fundamental to our ability to do just that are the technology services we offer. Some examples include extending partner technology platforms with the ability to give visibility into facility energy usage, solve a safety issue remotely and leveraging data sources to ensure optimal use of energy or resources.

Whatever path you take to implementing new technology, be sure you consider all your options to choose the solution that best meets your organization’s needs.