IT Solutions: Building Vs. Buying

IT Solutions: Building Vs. Buying

Our IT Executive Roundtables are invite-only events hosted by peers for peers that bring together a select group of senior IT leaders from across industries for topic-driven, intimate dialog on current trends and topics. The group met remotely to discuss build vs. buy led by the CIO of a leading foodservice distributor. This Session was sponsored by Okta.

May 10, 2023

In today’s fast-paced digital world, IT executives face many challenges as they navigate the complex landscape of technology investments and the transformation of the build versus buy decision in the ever-changing technology landscape. As technology evolves rapidly, organizations must adapt and reconsider how they approach IT investments.  

Our attendees dove into these five key themes:  

1. The changing landscape of the build versus buy decision

2. The importance of risk management

3. The role of integrations

4. Strategic decision-making

5. The importance of ongoing evaluation

By examining these themes through engaging roundtable conversations, IT executives can gain invaluable insights and develop strategies to make informed decisions that align with broader business objectives, drive success, and ensure long-term value from their IT investments.

Navigating the Build vs. Buy Dilemma in Today’s Dynamic IT Environment

Previously, companies often developed large, monolithic systems in-house to cater to their unique business requirements. However, the emergence of cloud computing and the proliferation of specialized software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications have dramatically changed how organizations address their IT needs. This paradigm shift has led to a more diverse range of options for IT leaders to consider when evaluating technology investments.

The attendees explored the factors driving this change, including the rise of cloud computing, which has made it easier and more cost-effective for companies to access and manage technology resources. This has opened the door to various specialized solutions to address specific business challenges, allowing organizations to mix and match the best offerings to achieve their goals.

Consequently, IT leaders must now carefully weigh the pros and cons of building in-house custom solutions versus leveraging ready-made applications from third-party vendors. This decision requires a thorough understanding of the organization’s unique needs and an assessment of the potential risks and benefits associated with each option.

In addition to choosing the right mix of in-house and third-party solutions, IT executives must also navigate the complexities of integrating these disparate systems. Seamless integration is crucial to ensuring that business processes run smoothly and that data can flow seamlessly between different applications. IT leaders must, therefore, be prepared to invest in integration strategies and technologies that facilitate communication and collaboration across various platforms.

The Critical Role of Risk Management in IT Decision-Making

When balancing the risk and reward of build vs. buy, the attendees stressed the importance of risk management, emphasizing its vital role in IT security strategy and investment decisions. The conversation explored the significance of having a robust risk management plan in place, whether an organization opts to build custom solutions or procure third-party offerings.

As cyber threats grow increasingly sophisticated and pervasive, it is paramount for organizations to take proactive measures to safeguard their data and systems. This can be achieved by collaborating with external experts specializing in threat detection and response or by nurturing in-house expertise through targeted training and strategic hiring.

However, our attendees shared an essential point that risk management goes beyond merely addressing IT security concerns. Organizations must also evaluate other types of risks associated with their technology investments. For example, the potential for vendor lock-in when relying on third-party solutions should be considered, as it may limit an organization’s flexibility in adapting to evolving business needs. Additionally, the risk of overinvesting in a technology that may soon become obsolete must be considered, as it can have long-term repercussions on the company’s competitive edge. By examining different risk management strategies and understanding their implications on IT investments, IT leaders can be better prepared to navigate the complex technology landscape.  

Mastering the Art of Integration: A Crucial Component in IT Investment Decisions

Regarding achieving business objectives, the attendees stressed the vital role of integrations, especially in organizations employing multiple systems. Seamless integration facilitates communication and data sharing between various systems, streamlining workflows and boosting efficiency. However, developing expertise in integrations can be daunting, particularly when grappling with intricate systems or outdated technologies. This challenge directly influences the build versus buy decision, as organizations must assess whether they possess the requisite in-house knowledge to manage integrations effectively. They must also weigh the integration capabilities of third-party solutions against the potential benefits of building a custom solution in-house.

During the roundtable, participants shared their experiences and insights on different approaches to managing integrations and the impact of these strategies on the build versus buy decision. As the executives exchanged ideas, it became clear that a thorough understanding of the organization’s unique needs is crucial when evaluating integration options. Furthermore, investing in integration technologies and strategies that promote seamless collaboration across various platforms is essential.

The Power of Strategic Decision-Making

The attendees dove into the critical role of strategic decision-making in the build versus buy dilemma. By carefully considering factors such as organizational goals, existing infrastructure, and budget constraints, participants emphasized the importance of aligning IT investments with broader business objectives.

For instance, an organization boasting a strong in-house development team and wanting to maintain control over its technology stack might be better served by building an in-house solution. Conversely, a company with limited resources needing to implement a new solution swiftly could find greater value in procuring a third-party offering. By adopting a strategic approach to the build versus buy decision, organizations can ensure that their IT investments deliver long-term value and align with their overarching goals.

During the roundtable, IT executives shared insights on how taking a strategic approach to technology investments helped them avoid potential pitfalls, such as implementing solutions that failed to meet their needs or required substantial rework later on. By prioritizing business objectives and making well-informed decisions, leaders can maximize the return on their IT investments.

Strategic decision-making in the build versus buy dilemma is crucial for IT leaders to align their technology investments with broader business objectives. By considering organizational goals, existing infrastructure, and budget constraints, executives can make well-informed decisions that maximize the return on their IT investments. Prioritizing business objectives and making strategic choices help organizations avoid pitfalls and ensure long-term value from their technology investments, ultimately driving business success.

Embracing Technological Advancements: Rethinking the Build vs. Buy Decision

During the executive roundtable, attendees explored the impact of technology on the build versus buy decision, focusing on how technological advances have transformed how organizations approach this critical choice. Previously, building large, monolithic systems in-house was more common due to limited options for specialized solutions. However, the current technology landscape presents many SaaS applications and line-of-business solutions that can be swiftly deployed to address specific business requirements, making it increasingly convenient for organizations to buy rather than build solutions.

Moreover, cloud computing has revolutionized how organizations scale their IT infrastructure. By offering cost-effective and flexible scalability, cloud computing allows organizations to avoid substantial investments in hardware or software upfront. Examining the influence of technology on the build versus buy decision provides valuable insights into approaching this crucial decision in today’s fast-paced IT environment. Emerging technologies have a real potential to reshape this decision in the future, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain. By staying informed about these cutting-edge technologies, IT leaders can be better prepared to make strategic choices that align with their organization’s needs and goals.

In conclusion, as technology advances and reshapes the IT landscape, organizations must constantly reevaluate their approach to the build versus buy decision. By considering the latest technological developments and their implications, IT executives can make informed choices that drive business success and future-proof their organizations in an ever-evolving digital world.

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