Operators have long struggled with the question of whether it is best to buy or build their technology, but perhaps this is the wrong question to ask. There is an alternative.
How an operator accesses the best products and technology to deliver a great user experience has changed in recent years. Around six or seven years ago, the vast majority of operators opted to licence their technology from third party suppliers, recognising the need to outsource due to lack of internal expertise. However, as many operators selected the same technology partners, many ended up looking like clones of one another and lacked the ability to differentiate.
Providing tailored solutions for individual operators was neither cost-effective nor technically viable for many platform providers. Instead, they provided a one-size-fits-all option to each brand, placing the onus on them to ensure their marketing and not their product proposition was what made them stand out from the crowd.
With costs rising, some operators decided to take their technology in-house. These projects have produced somewhat mixed results to date. Some have seen success, but the majority of these have been private businesses who can commit significant budget and have focused on a particular vertical, like sports, for example.
In most cases, however, operators cannot make the sort of commitment required to construct a platform equivalent to that produced by a dedicated third party supplier. Operators have more pressing priorities and focus their expertise in other areas, on which their businesses rely.
At Bede, for instance, the last 6 years has been dedicated to building the most flexible solution in the industry. It’s hard to shortcut this, especially if you’re looking for a quality product as opposed to a quick fix.
However, this isn’t to say that operators shouldn’t look at building a platform as an option. Indeed, it is crucial that suppliers do not ignore the compelling reasons for operators to build their own technology, particularly in Europe’s mature markets where thin margins put additional, and sometimes heavy, pressure on internal efficiencies.
And this is where we’re saying there is an alternative route. One that allows operators to build their own functionality on top of a flexible and open platform. That delivers a differentiated proposition without sacrificing quality or refocusing critical business resource towards lengthy in-house projects.
It is vital that operators look at the technology that is now available and understand that they can use it to take back the control they’re looking for to deliver their own digital objectives.
Delivering a future-proof alternative to an existing legacy platform is perceived as a risk, particularly among major PLCs whose board and shareholders are under a lot of pressure to maintain growth. In this case, it’s almost always easier to go for the safe choice but that doesn’t necessarily make it the right choice.
And with aggressive challenger brands making their presence felt, operators that prevaricate could find themselves at risk of losing market share.
This alternative approach allows operators to license a high functioning platform and also have the power to build upon it, making the technology act as the enabler to differentiation, choice and control.
All this is to say that the divide is no longer as black and white as it was those six or seven years ago.The technology is now available, and accessible, for future-proof alternatives to the static legacy platform options.
Some Tier 1 operators have taken the plunge and immediately reaped the benefits. It’s no secret that the likes of the Rank Group, who switched to Bede in 2016, has seen digital revenues soar since.
This example shows the importance of ensuring that technology does not act as a roadblock for delivering a stronger product and experience to customers. With an open, agile and proven platform upon which operators can build, they are free to focus on what they are good at.
So, if you are struggling with the buy or build conundrum, it might be worth considering that you really can have your cake and eat it. To create a truly differentiated unique offering, the question should not be not whether to buy OR build but where you can buy AND build.