Build vs Buy: A Product Thinking Perspective
Phil Osmond, Head of Product, shares his thoughts and perspectives on “Build vs. Buy”, weighing up the pros and cons for the type of delivery to our clients. I started my career in the days when virtually every webpage, database, or software solution was built from scratch. In the late 90’s I was handcrafting HTML in Notepad, by the early 2000’s I was building an equipment rental system in JavaServer Pages (JSP). Later I would build order management and stock control systems in PHP, at least I had Dreamweaver by then! I often look back and wonder about my misspent youth, then I remember that software-as-a-service (SaaS) was still young. Large unwieldy monolith processing systems were still commonplace. Entry cost for the small business, or start-up, was often prohibitive, and it was much cheaper to get a graduate in! Today, whilst there remain good reasons to craft custom code, the value provided by pre-built frameworks and platforms-as-a-service (PaaS) is too good to ignore. The cost to entry is much, much lower through SaaS pricing models. A competitive market means quality is high. The MarTech software landscape is particularly busy, there is all manner of tooling available to automate, execute, or manage almost any part of the customer data and marketing ecosystem. So, should you still build a custom solution in today’s world? Or should you buy? Product Thinking Perspective The ‘product thinking’ ethos is about solving real problems in a viable fashion. We look at the bigger picture, learn, experiment, evaluate and iterate. We are focused on value, and to deliver that value, we want to change the lives of customers and users for the better. Those benefits result in a value exchange. Value to the user results in value for the business. Here at Edit our interest is in solving many and varied problems for our clients and their customers, which may also look more like opportunities. But in all cases, we want to shy away from merely throwing technology at a problem. Instead, we seek beneficial changes in behaviour, we strive to drive real business impact. In so doing we stand on the giants of product management and entrepreneurial spirit. We ride upon the shoulders of those who are transforming the software development industry from trotting out features and churning out solutions, into one that focuses on the true value exchange between the business and its users. How do we achieve this? By providing the right people with the right solution at the right time in a way that maximises the impact the client wants to make. The cost of driving this impact is what is vital to understand. Ideally a business would seek to minimise such costs. Minimum input, maximum impact. Yet much of it is unseen. Opportunity cost needs consideration – what are you not doing instead? Risk needs assessing – not only will be it ready (should you need it by a set date), but will it survive? What does ongoing support and maintenance look like? Will it scale? What happens if the developer leaves, or gets hit by a bus? What will happen if the supplier goes bust? The biggest risk we face is the risk of building the wrong thing. Or buying the wrong solution. Wasted effort, wasted budget, wasted time, plus wasted opportunity that could have been spent elsewhere. What is the ‘right’ way? Defining ‘right’ is vitally important, as is truly understanding the problem or opportunity, and identifying long-term success is vital. However, whilst we place a lot of emphasis on this, it is only part of the picture. It lays us a firm foundation, but finding the right, or ‘best’ solution is where we need to pay attention. And it’s here in this sea of solution ideas the sharks circle round. It’s in this zone the risks reside. It is here the hard work begins, and where the age-old build vs buy debate comes to the table. In a world where we want to provide the right solution, how can we do so swiftly, efficiently, and safely? How can we avoid reinventing the wheel, or investing in our own plumbing and scaffolding? How can we learn fast and iterate quickly? How can we unlock incremental value and capitalise on the opportunities in front of us? So, should you build, or should you buy? In our pursuit of the right solution, the build vs buy debate brings multiple options to the table. Three key questions can help us explore the options available: What will unlock value? Early value is a core aspect of product thinking. Why wait for months whilst a large slab of functionality is developed, when you could have a thin sliver sooner? Especially when that thin sliver can enable you to do something valuable. It may not be perfect, but it’s that incremental value which all adds up. And what’s more, it provides a functional skeleton for further enablement to hang off as you iterate towards your vision of success. Therefore, how can you deliver that value early and often? Is it through developing it yourself – either from scratch, or using frameworks – or buying something in? Of course, many other factors need consideration. Resource, time, expertise and confidence are all involved. But so is your strategy. Make it your strategy to deliver early value – and measure it! Here at Edit, many of our clients are seeking to unlock value. How can they do more with the data they have? How can they optimise their customer interactions? How can they maximise customer spend? How can they reduce customer churn? We work with them to help them unlock early value from their data through wise technology choices. From insight to activation, engineered for the marketing situation. Will it reduce risk? As we’ve noted, risk is real. Risk is rife. And risk is multi-faceted. Buy or build, supplying the wrong solution is one of the biggest risks. Spending lots of money, then finding it doesn’t enable the outcomes desired is not a happy place to be. Product thinking recognises three further risks: The feasibility risk. You may not be in a position to build what you need to enable the outcomes you desire. In which case you have a choice – buy in the capability or buy in the solution – or both. But in all cases remember the next risk: The viability risk. You can do it, but should you do it? How should we assemble the components? The feasibility of a short-term on-site contractor may feel wise, but can they design and build? What happens if they take time off? Who will maintain it once they depart? The usability risk. Whether built in-house or bought, can it be used? Will it be used? In our world, one of the benefits of a professionally designed data solution is that it is easier for non-technical users to pick up. Building a solution may feel low risk. Especially when applying decent agile and product principles. However, your precious data is involved. Valuable insight is at stake. Therefore, proven capability and solid design are vital. Bringing the experts in will help you make an informed choice based on your needs and situation. It will also reduce the risk of supplying the wrong solution! Will it last? Like the smell of fresh bread or a freshly cut lawn, it’s fantastic at the time, but it never lasts. Your new functionality is enabling the outcomes you need. Those outcomes are driving the impact you desire. Life is good. Valuable insights are being used to inform and direct activities. Engagement is up. Conversion is rising. Happy days. But how long will it last? The grass grows. The bread gets eaten. The world moves on. Nothing remains the same. Your data changes. Your customer’s needs evolve. The market changes! Whether you build, or whether you buy, change is inevitable. What happens when it comes? Continuous improvement is a widely recognised advantage of bought solutions. Ongoing maintenance is table-stakes for a SaaS solution. Be it a security patch or functionality to handle market demands in expected as part of the price. Vendors need to keep up or lose out. By building yourself you know you’ll need to maintain and scale it. But if you have paid big bucks to a consultancy, solutions integrator, or contractor – what are they leaving you with? The future of your data insight strategy is in their hands – make sure you trust them! Conclusion Don’t waste your life building or buying the wrong data or marketing technology solution. Life is far too short! And moves far too quickly. Think carefully about how you will drive the impact you want to see and enable the outcomes you need to make it happen. Properly address the problem. Define success. Unlock value. Reduce risk. Keep an eye on long-term scalability. And if you need help from the experts – contact us here.
The Importance of Data: How to Modernise Your Business’s Data Strategy
Data is everywhere, and chances are, your company has an abundance of it but you’re likely not utilising it to maximise it’s potential. One of the biggest mistakes a business can make is failing to put data at the heart of what they do. Your data is the key to unlocking the perfect customer experience which will mean retention and loyalty for your brand. But to be able to start making decisions that make the most of the power in your data, you first need to process, access, and analyse it. Edit’s data experts can help any business that wants to be successful and can help them discover how to use their data effectively. We’re hosting a webinar, in partnership with Cloud Direct the Microsoft Cloud experts, to bring you the opportunity to start making the best business decisions possible, and that starts with understanding your data. Join our infrastructure and data experts on the 30th of June 2-3pm as we explore: What a data-driven future looks like The process to structure, access, and analyse your data Infrastructure considerations you should be making The types of data you can monitor and decisions you can start making How you can leverage data to make smart decisions Register here: How to Modernise Your Business’s Data Strategy
News: Edit achieve clean sweep at Campaign Tech Awards
Edit are pleased to announce that alongside our JLR creative partners Spark44, we have once again been recognised for our work for Jaguar Land Rover, this time at the Campaign Tech awards. These awards follow an amazing succession of wins for Edit since acquisition by The Salocin Group in November 2021, including six DMA Awards, an Automotive Marketing & Communications Award and an award from Print Week. Taking place on Wednesday the 8th of June 2022, the Campaign Tech Awards exist to celebrate and showcase the companies that represent the industry’s trailblazing thinkers, imaginative clients, and cutting-edge technology. Edit were honoured to be amongst the shortlisted candidates and won all the awards that the business was shortlisted for, for their work for Jaguar Land Rover. BEST USE OF EXPERIENTIAL TECH Winner: Just Add Water. And Mud. And Ruts. And Rocks… BEST USE OF TECH IN CRM Winner: Land Rover Defender ‘Life at 45 Degrees’ BEST USE OF INSIGHT Winner: LAND ROVER “#OUTSPIRATION Nick Dixon, Chief Executive Officer at Edit, Executive Chairman, The Salocin Group comments, “I’d like to extend my gratitude and pride in all the hard work from the teams at Edit, Spark44, and Jaguar Land Rover for this fantastic achievement. These successes spur us on to push the boundaries in innovation and to explore new ways to engage customers with brands, I’m excited to see what the coming years will bring.” Congratulations to all the finalists and winners. If your brand is interesting in working with Edit to replicate some of these award-winning results, contact us here. Edit’s digital direct mail packs which won the Best Use of Tech in CRM award, can be personalised to your brand and Edit can help you get them into the hands of your hard-to-reach customers. Empower your customers to connect with your brand with just the touch of a button. Request a pack here.
Introducing Signal: Digital direct mail with sector leading results
It’s an exciting time here at Edit and our sister company Join the Dots, as we can now announce the launch of Signal, our bespoke digital direct mail solution that allows potential customers to signal their interest in your brand with the touch of a button. Our premium Signal packs have been developed as a turn-key solution available to support any brand or product launch, based on our award-winning work with Jaguar Land Rover. Why choose Signal for your next marketing campaign? Signal was developed directly off the back of consumer feedback. The modern customer is bombarded with electronic messages through-out the day across, email, apps and social media. And whilst many of these messages may be well thought out and contain personalised messaging, it is still increasingly difficult for brands to stand-out amongst the noise, and for consumers to break away from the endless scroll which has become the habit of so many. Market research shows that print market still has real cut-through, particularly amongst harder to reach segments, and high value customers. QR codes allow print mail to connect effectively to digital platforms, however what if could take things one stage further and remove the need for another device? That’s where Signal comes in. Combing attention-grabbing print with the immediacy of digital communications, Signal offers a unique solution to getting a response from a target audience. How does Signal work? With an action as simple as the touch of a button, or the turn of a dial on the pack, our radio transmitting technology sends a signal to virtually any marketing platform that the customer would like to take the next step towards engaging with a brand. In the case of our award-winning work for Jaguar Land Rover that’s booking a test drive, but it could be anything from arranging a property viewing, scheduling a sales call or making a repeat order. Where working with Edit provides another unique advantage is when we combine the marketing technology of signal with the capabilities of our Intelligent Data team. By analysis of your first-party customer data, we can pin-point exactly the right consumers to target with a signal campaign, minimising wastage, and ensuring the right audience receives the right message. With a direct connection to your chosen marketing platform, it couldn’t be easier to react to a customer’s signal of intent. And they’re empowered to get in touch more conveniently than ever. “We are undoubtedly seeing the growth physical engagement to compliment digital experiences. Whether that’s QR code integration everywhere, or uses of augmented reality for everything from gaming to education, to retail, these forms of engagement are early signs of the meta-verse taking hold. Signal is our unique offering within this marketing place combing the best of our capabilities into a product with proven revenue generating capabilities.” – Ben Briggs, Managing Partner, Join the Dots No mixed messages, just a simple Signal. Empower your customers to connect with your brand with just the touch of a button. Request a pack here. Any questions? Contact us here.
Hospitality Marketing, the Metaverse, and Increased Innovation
The metaverse is coming and it’s up to marketers to bring its value to hospitality venues everywhere. With some of the biggest finance players already taking notice, the metaverse cannot be considered a concept anymore – it’s an emerging tech platform with massive potential and marketers will need to leverage it if they want to excel in the digital experience space. Physical, Digital, Meta Metaverses are virtual worlds that connect the real world to the virtual one and allow a user to experience the best of both at the same time. The metaverse isn’t just a virtual environment, and because of decentralisation it won’t be a space controlled by big brands – there’ll be room for everyone. For venues, this could be interaction using Augmented Reality (AR) on a mobile device: enabling visitors to see bonus videos about characters at a theme park. Similarly, in a dining setting, a potential visitor could use Virtual Reality (VR) to check out the layout of a restaurant before booking a table. In the coming years, in line with how the tech advances, there will no doubt be increased pressure on hospitality brands to tailor their experiences to individual customer needs. As it becomes more and more possible to react to an individual’s behaviour in real time, in order to maintain a competitive edge, brands will also need to transform data from a user’s interaction with digital worlds into actionable intelligence. As customer behaviour can be observed as it happens, brands of all kinds have enhanced insight into what they’re buying and doing; as well as where they are and what device they’re using. This will then be used to create personalised content – alongside offers, incentives, and the like – that can delivered, not just in real-time, but at the right time. Fine Art Consider a recent event that’s currently touring – Exhibition Hub is currently running Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience across 20 cities aiming to deliver Van Gogh and his art to audiences through a range of different mediums. Included in this, is a VR world that users can travel through to experience the world that the artist lived in and inspired his works. Now, what if Exhibition Hub was able to measure the amount of time that individual VR users looked at a particular piece of art? How could they use that data to drive increased value? And we’re not just talking impulse purchases – such as gift shop souvenirs souvenir coffee table lookbooks. What if the experience could be repeated, and refreshed each time, for each user – giving them more content to interact with, at this, and future events? What if the organiser saw an opportunity to encourage visitors to purchase a set of NFTs – created to drive ownership of digital assets based on the exhibition? It might sound a little far-fetched, but in anticipating how we might use the metaverse in more tangible ways – across a variety of industries – it’s clear that brands need to find ways to create meaningful experiences in the digital realm too; and offer something not only exclusive, but relevant, valuable, and personalised. In the hospitality industry, the latter is of particular importance. Why? Because value itself is contingent on individual preferences. The more we know about the customer, the more specific the experience – be it digital, physical, or mixed one – can be made. This in turn adds more value to the customer experience and boosts their brand in the eyes of the user. Luckily, the amount of individual data being generated by Extended Reality (XR) hardware – such as wearable devices – continues to proliferate. Each year greater processing power comes in smaller packages, so things like smartwatches are going to become devices capable of handling more of our needs. A wearable device has a physical connection to its owner that goes beyond the connection we all have with smartphones. Having that kind of direct access to individuals puts marketers in a powerful position. However, because of this, we must treat access to data of this ilk as a privilege that needs given respect. Even simple notifications based on location can be intrusive – if not built with the user in mind. It’s clear that hospitality venues have the opportunity to use the metaverse alongside VR, AR, and XR to create dynamic marketing campaigns that use real-time data to create unique, personalised experiences. This type of micro-segmentation will undoubtedly help make customers feel understood leading to boosted loyalty, retention, and revenue. Want to know more about engaging hospitality audiences with emerging tech? Check out our latest report, The Price of Admission: Why the hospitality sector must focus on personalisation.