February 13, 2013

Build, Buy, or Partner? How to Find Success in an Increasingly Digital World

Senior executives and boards are demanding top-line revenue growth. They insist on leveraging innovative and emerging technologies to monetize data and information to attract and serve their customers more effectively. Software is now becoming the product. But, legacy organizational approaches are hindering the ability to tap into this emerging business model.

Software forever more is changing a company’s brand. Most companies today are facing a rapidly expanding gap between strategic demand for innovative software application development and their ability to execute on that software development internally. The greatest proportion of technical resources in many organizations today is aligned to supporting ongoing operations and maintaining the base of existing applications. Senior executives and boards are searching for new revenue streams found in the digital landscape and the protection of existing revenues. Their requests include the use of emerging technologies to provide anywhere, anytime, any-device revenue generation with rich user experience.

This demand, coupled with the pace at which web and mobile technology is evolving, creates the need for innovation with never before seen time-to-market and thus, time-to-revenue pressures. Taking advantage of social, local and mobile application integration and analytics further complicates their challenge. How are organizations to overcome the innovation and execution challenges they face?

Traditionally, organizations evaluate how to accomplish new software product development against a Build, Buy, or Partner option analysis. With ever increasing need for software, a global market to serve, competitive pressures, and the need for new or enhanced revenues all colliding at the crossroads of “we need it yesterday,” the Build, Buy, or Partner decision can no longer be mutually exclusive.

Organizations can no longer tackle the innovation and execution challenge internally or on their own.   The reality being faced is one in which companies aren’t able to locate and hire all the deep technical resources they need to adequately staff internal projects, and just when they think they have – disruption like attrition and technology shifts hinder their ability to execute and thus achieve strategic objectives. In order to meet the time-to-revenue goals while exploiting emerging technologies, organizations are being forced to adopt a Build and Partner product development strategy.

To Build and Partner implies that organizations are simultaneously leveraging the best of both worlds to meet their goals. Build and Partner doesn’t imply that the organization gives up the idea, the intellectual property or the innovation. Rather, it allows them to capitalize on the idea, develop the intellectual property, and speed innovation. To successfully build through partnership, companies must select a partner that brings a few key attributes to the relationship:

  1. Product Mindset. The product development partner must possess a Product Mindset.  Insight into what customers want today and in the future must be aligned with the intersection of trends, current technology and delivery gaps and business process to generate desired (revenue) business outcomes. Product Mindset includes a lifecycle approach to product development, working towards long-term sustainability.
  2. Thought Leadership.  The successful partner will be thought leaders, take a strong position on your product strategy and positively impact your product strategy beyond technology and methodology.
  3. Emerging Technology. Your product development partner must also have deep expertise in emerging technologies, but additionally be able to speak your business. Only those partners that can work at the intersection of business and technology can best serve your needs.