The Personalization Technology Build vs. Buy Conundrum, Part 2

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Ideas and Strategies for Real-Time Personalization
The Personalization Technology Build vs. Buy Conundrum, Part 2

December 12, 2017 by

When businesses first start thinking about incorporating personalization into their strategies, one of the first decisions they must make is whether to build or buy the underlying technology. Making the right decision depends on the unique needs of your business. There are a few questions that you should ask yourself to help assess these needs. I covered the first few questions in part 1 of this two-part blog series. In this post, I’ll finish up the list.

Can You Develop an Easy-to-Use Solution?

Have you ever bought something that was difficult to use? Like, for example, a new kitchen gadget. You may have bought it to make your life easier and save you some time in the kitchen, but if it was complicated to use, you may have found yourself hesitant to use it on a regular basis. The same applies to any martech solution. If it’s cumbersome and tedious to use, you’ll avoid using it.

We find that many in-house built solutions are not built with usability in mind. Now, I’m not trying to call your engineering team’s capabilities into question, but a personalization solution is not likely your engineering team’s key focus (see previous blog post for more detail on this point). As a user, you could be required to submit an IT ticket to complete basic tasks such as setting up campaigns; capturing new behaviors or actions; creating new segments; developing new algorithms; testing new rules, experiences or algorithms; and troubleshooting any issues. This could delay adoption of personalization in your organization and drastically slow down iteration and analysis of your campaigns.

A key principle of Evergage from the start has been to make personalization accessible to the average marketer — without the need for IT or engineering involvement. If having an easy-to-use solution is important to you as a marketer, then consider buying, rather than building, your personalization solution instead.

How Long Will It Take to Build?

Earlier this year, I attended Forrester’s Digital Transformation conference where a recurring theme was that businesses no longer have the luxury of time – that is, time to build in-house, time for RFPs, time for lengthy implementations, time for indecision. Instead, innovative companies are running “proof of concept” engagements (POCs), partnering with select vendors and service providers, testing different approaches, and succeeding or failing quickly.

If you’re in an ultra-competitive industry – and who isn’t these days – building a robust technology solution (such as a real-time personalization platform) is a meticulous, lengthy and resource-intensive process.

With all due respect to your engineering team, how can they be expected to develop a best-in-class personalization solution that can have an immediate impact on your business? The reality is that by the time you gather key company decision makers to have the conversations about whether you should build a personalization solution, you could be up and running with Evergage and well on your way to delivering personalized experiences – across channels – for each and every visitor.

Are You Prepared to Dedicate the Resources for Maintenance?

As any CTO, IT director or engineer will tell you, it’s not enough to just ship a technology project. Once a tool or resource has been introduced, there are ongoing operational, maintenance and ancillary costs, all of which can add up pretty quickly.

Case in point: Evergage is a relatively small company, but when you consider our engineering and customer success teams, roughly 70% of our staff directly supports our real-time personalization platform. Granted, we’re a technology provider, we support many companies, and the scale of our personalization operations is much larger than any single company would need, but a high percentage of our engineering talent would still be required to support a world-class personalization platform (if you were to build one in-house).

Every day our engineering team works hard to improve our platform, fix bugs and troubleshoot customer issues. System upgrades, performance optimization, security and compliance management and platform monitoring are always top of mind too.

If you are considering building in-house, your CTO or IT director will undoubtedly be familiar with these costs. The question is: are you willing and able to commit to a long-term project that will require continuous development with ongoing operational and support costs? A personalization solution isn’t a “build it and forget it” project. When you consider opportunity costs, speed, market intelligence and the overall resource commitment to build and maintain a state-of-the-art personalization solution, it’s evident that Evergage provides enormous value as a well supported real-time personalization platform.

Can you keep up with personalization best practices, strategies and tactics?

As I’ve written about before, these days customer expectations are being defined by experiences with other companies. And it’s not limited to just those companies you compete against. For example, customers who have a positive experience on a company’s website or app – regardless of industry – will likely have higher expectations when using your website or app.

Because of this, it’s no longer sufficient to simply monitor what your competitors are doing. You have to constantly evaluate best practices – across industries – and consider how they can potentially improve your customer experiences too.

If you’re considering building a personalization solution in-house, the scope of your development roadmap will undoubtedly be focused on use cases related to your company and industry. Unless you have unlimited resources, you may not have the flexibility to build a more comprehensive platform, even if you’re aware of other applications.

That’s not the case at Evergage. We work with companies across many industries – financial services, retail, technology, travel, gaming, etc. – each of which challenge us, in their own way, to develop capabilities and strategies for their unique use cases. As a result, we have developed the most versatile real-time personalization platform on the market – one that continues to improve based on invaluable feedback and suggestions from our diverse set of customers.

When you partner with Evergage, you are both a contributor to and beneficiary of collective feedback and input that drives our platform forward. You’ll also benefit from our know-how and extensive free resources, including our eCampus, playbooks, knowledgebase, as well as our dedicated customer success team who not only live on the front lines of personalization but who are also experts in strategy and execution.

Final Thoughts

We admit we may be a bit biased when we tell you that you should buy rather than build your personalization technology. Ultimately, though, we can’t decide what’s best for your organization — only you can do that. But we are experts in building personalization technology, and we know that there is more to it than companies think. Before you decide to build a personalization solution in-house, ask yourself the four questions in this blog post (as well as the four outlined in part 1) and make sure you’ve thoroughly done your research.

Also, be sure to download our new whitepaper, Build vs. Buy: Selecting the Best Option for Your Personalization Solution, for more detail on each of these questions and more.

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