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2019-04-16

Build vs Buy: Perennial Dilemma of Business Data Integration

In the current age of digital transformation, IT plays a pivotal role. Conventionally considered as a tool to allow business processes to run smoothly behind the scenes, in the era of Big Data and Uberization, IT has become THE business process.

Enterprises or organizations that harness and navigate the data flood by relying on crucial platforms or technologies, including legacy systems, enormous databases, cloud applications, to name a few, tend to rise and grow while those who miss the bus crumble.

IT employs these technologies to enable companies to develop novel business data frameworks to adapt to the changing market forces with an aim to establish robust relationships with their customers to delight them.

However, without connectivity, these disparate apps and services are unable to deliver the required results, which is why a multitude of organizations are starting to adhere to business data integration models. Data integration not only serves as an IT enabler, but also helps connecting apps and services for ensuring data integrity.

With technology evolving at breakneck speed, designing a fully-integrated, data-driven system in the shortest possible time span has become imperative. Integrated systems help businesses optimize their functional processes and add to their bottom line.

Despite such rising need, the task of creating business data integrations remains a jigsaw puzzle even today, leaving enterprises at the crossroads of “build vs buy” as they weigh their options.

The “Build Vs Buy” Dilemma

Build

Minimal integration requirements can be met by the “build” option, which corresponds to creating custom, hand-coded, point-to-point integrations between the APIs of two applications in a business network — it is both quick and logical.

However, as the business expands and new integrations are required, the ability to manage and monitor these P2P connections becomes challenging. This, in turn, leads to an increase in the number of point-to-point connections and rise in infrastructure’s complexity. Such “spaghetti architecture” sabotages organization’s agility, flexibility, and scalability. Simply put, custom code integrations are not equipped to deal with this spaghetti integration mess.

The build option offers businesses total control, from infrastructure to coding. The integrations can be designed, run, maintained, and monitored in-house. However, as the number of point-to-point integrations between diverse applications increases, meeting the specific business as well as technical objectives becomes more and more difficult.

Building integrations from scratch can have many drawbacks, such as:

  • Slower Time-to-Market: Building an in-house integration solution takes dedicated team months to develop- it is cumbersome and inexpedient. In fact, 48% of companies in a survey claimed that modernizing existing IT systems and applications were their biggest integration challenge.

According to aVMWare surveyof IT decision makers, a medium sized integration solution takes between 7 to 18 months for completion. As the size of the project increases, the developing team finds that the number of edge-case scenarios, bugs, and server-side issues increases exponentially – the survey states that more than 27% of large in-house integration projects are known for exceeding their timelines.

Additionally, Mckinsey research found that 7% of large IT projects were delivered late.Another report by Standish Group stated that while 52% of in-house projects tend to jump over the budget, 19% of projects were considered failures and never reached the market.

Key takeaway: While the build option befits small in-house integration projects, chances of falling behind the schedule and overrunning budget are high. Investing in a third-party integration platform helps businesses speed up their deployment time, reaction time, and ensures a guaranteed timeline.

  • Inflated Overhead Costs and Opportunity Costs: Large-scale in-house integration projects run over budget 45% of the time while delivering 56% less value than estimated, Mckinsey survey indicated. Some projects are such high-impact overruns, referred to as black swans, that they jeopardize the existence of the firm. 17% of the in-house projects fall into the category of the “black swan”, the study added.

Additionally, the opportunity costs are worth their weight in gold. Developing and managing an integration module typically requires a team of skillful developers, meaning either enterprise have to permanently move developer talent away from current projects or hire additional hands.

Key takeaway: Contrary to the popular school of thought that building integration platform will pay for itself over time, its maintenance is prone to cost and budget overruns. Buying a pre-built platform eliminates these risks.

  • Limited Features and Functionality: Although building an integration solution offers unimaginable flexibility as mentioned earlier, this advantage can be deceiving. As per Mckinsey report, 56% of large in-house integration projects fall short of their original vision and are launched with sacrificed features and value, while Standish Group survey clearly pointed out that the project success rates inversely correlate with the complexity of its features, accounting for the 19% of projects that never reach the market.

Key takeaway: The “build” option offers flexibility over the design, but introduces the risk of challenged execution. Procuring a pre-built integration platform may require enterprises to sacrifice their envisioned functionality, but enables them to evaluate options that fit best.

  • Lack of Knowledge and Expertise: Integration solutions are not built in vacuum. It calls for expertise and months of trial and iteration with respective stakeholders.

Companies planning to build integration platform usually suffer from expertise deficit. The expected course of action is to hire experts that further adds up the costs.

Key takeaway: Unless the integration platform companies choose to build directly relates to your core competency, working on in-house integration projects means years of iteration as well as assumptions. On the other hand, buying pre-built solutions comes with technology and expertise, offering end-to-end assistance throughout.

  • Needs Undivided Attention and Lifelong Maintenance: It offers a limited scope of accessibility to other teams, thereby increasing the dependency on the IT department. Constant maintenance is required, which involves scaling, patching, and managing API alterations across different services. As the business grows and creating new integrations becomes essential, troubleshooting and managing connections for custom integration solutions become more and more difficult.

Key takeaway: The integration platforms that are built in-house need perpetual maintenance, which leads to over-reliance on the IT team. However, the maintenance part, in the case of buying, is handled by the vendor.

  • Agility, Flexibility, and Scalability Compromised: Custom coding offers businesses the flexibility of tailoring integrations in order to meet specific technical as well as business needs. However, this flexibility is shortlived.

When the business grows and so do the number of integrations, the point-to-point infrastructure increases in complexity, resulting in a tightly coupled spaghetti architecture that threatens the fragile flexibility. Further, the rise of such multiple point connections leads to loss of business agility and flexibility.

Key takeaway: Important aspects of custom coded integration, including agility and scalability, is at risk as the organization grows. This isn’t the case with platforms offered by third-party vendors.

  • Handling of Errors and Exceptions: Developers usually make a mistake in under-estimating effort in building in-house integration solution because they only focus on “happy-path”, basic, minimum functionality needed to do the job and they think they can tie together a few open-source publicly available components to create the solution. What they forget to analyze is the work that is required to handle all possible error conditions to gracefully handle the exceptions. The happy-path implementation is usually only 20% of the development work, while 80% of the effort goes into handling problems when they arise as they need to be taken care of to have a truly reliable solution.

Key takeaway: Building integration platform takes a lot of effort and expertise as constant supervision is required during pre and post-development part — the development team working on the in-house project has to devote a lot of time and effort in dealing with errors and exceptions. On the other hand, buying an integration solution can save a lot of time, effort, and resource.

  • Difficult to Scale to Diverse Needs: By building in-house you may be able to meet the current integration needs but it is difficult to keep growing the capabilities of the in-house solution to meet changing technical and business needs which can happen quickly. Such as support for new technologies such as different Web Services API protocols, new security standards and versions etc.

Key takeaway: Scaling is an issue when it comes to building an in-house integration platform. The ‘demand swings’ of the customers and the seismic shifts happening in the world of business expect the integration platform to evolve or scale-up, and an in-house integration platform fails to conform to such changes. In this case, the option of buying sounds prudent.

Buy

Subscribing to a business data integration solution comes with an advantage of speed, cost-effectiveness, scalability, agility, and easy manageability. Adorned by pre-built connectors and easy-to-use graphical dashboards, these integration platforms allow businesses to design custom integrations effectively. Aspects such as security, scalability, and maintenance are handled by the provider, saving organizations a lot of time and effort.

With a single platform for integrating a host of applications and services, the deployment time and complexity is alleviated, driving value through the company’s workflows. A central integration platform helps IT teams access applications, data, and services from a single interface. In addition, it helps teams develop hybrid and customized integrations without the need to use costly hardware or software. Moreover, it is easy to implement, manage, and scale, and thus proves to be a cost-effective business data integration solution.

Business Data Integration Solution Allows:

  1. Establishing connections between multiple applications and myriad environments in a few minutes
  2. Integrating, storing, accessing, and transforming different data types in various formats from a single platform
  3. Automation of repetitive tasks
  4. Better breakdown of silos and improvement in the collaborative process between teams and applications, creating interactive collaborative community experience.
  5. Modernized onboarding that ensures an outstanding experience to all stakeholders across the enterprise.
  6. Freeing of IT cycles by helping the team manage their integration requirements with a no-code approach.
  7. Reduction of operational costs by enabling easy integration with a simple drag and drop interface and out-of-the-box connectors.
  8. Acceleration of time-to-market, time-to-value, and productivity.

Choosing between Building & Buying

At the crossroads, if you are a small business that does not expect to grow and expand in the next few years, building an in-house solution is a better alternative for you.

However, if you think you are on a growth path and plan to deliver a better business data onboarding experience to delight your customers and accelerate the time to service delivery, an out-of-the-box business integration solution is what you need.

At Adeptia, our business application modernizes onboarding and exchange of business data using a self-service approach to perform anytime, anywhere data onboarding. Talk to us to know how we can make you easy to do business with and fast forward revenues on your growth path.