Build vs Buy: 5 Things to Consider

Rickard Lönneborg
Aug 10, 2021

The media landscape is always evolving, but the previous year has seen it shift at an accelerated pace – Covid 19 has meant there has been enormous change in how we consume our media and, in turn, what media workflows need to adapt to meet those challenges. While it was previously the preserve of larger broadcasters to build bespoke media supply chains, the evolution of the media workflow industry has meant that there are more options than ever before to diversify your workflow. How then, do we choose how best to ensure workflow integrity?

Let’s look at five points that you should consider before you decide whether to build or buy.

  1. Is my media workflow totally unique?

Solution providers must continuously adapt their workflow to meet new needs and trends. The demands of consumers are varied and vast, which also adds complexity to the workflow, as different versions are required for each permutation. Many media companies across the spectrum will be experiencing similar problems with the workflow. If this is the case for you, it is more than likely there will be existing tools available for you to buy to implement a solution. Of course, this will not always be the case, and if your workflow is unique, the best option may be to build.

2. Do I have the expertise in house to build my own?

This must surely be a big consideration. Building a bespoke media workflow that will address all current needs as well as anticipate those that will inevitably rise in the future requires massive internal expertise. Those resources will have to be continually working to adapt and maintain this code - is this the best use of your expertise, or is it actually taking valuable time away from creating amazing content? If that expertise is not readily available for you, you may need to bring in external resources.

3. How do I scale?

Consumers now have unrivalled access to a plethora of content, more so than ever before. To engage effectively with all the content available, greater options for the ways in which we view and engage with media should become prerequisite. The demands of consumers are varied and vast, adding to the complexity of the workflow as different versions are required for each permutation. That, plus the growing consumer demand for video content means that every video business needs to be ready to scale. If you are buying, you clearly need to ensure that those tools allow you to scale quickly. Much of the tools available are cloud based, which automatically lend themselves to being highly scalable. If you build, can it be done in a way that will enable that scale? Think about the software you are considering - is it easily ingratiated with other, third-party, tools to ensure a seamless workflow?

4. What happens when things go wrong?

The media workflow has become fragmented, and it can be overwhelming to select the correct tool for each part of the workflow. The massive availability of media-centric tools can be complex, and even once you have created your perfect set-up, errors are inevitable. How best do you negate these when you have already spent so much time adapting and integrating your code? Time needs to be allocated for the support required to ensure a seamless workflow going forward, as well as consistent development to adapt and meet new needs and trends. If you are buying in, do the providers offer their support for when things go wrong?

5. How fast does it need to launch?

As we have discussed and as you are aware, things evolve fast in this industry, even without a global pandemic to force things along. As was the case for many in 2020, your service may need to be launched quickly and consideration should be taken over the best route to get to market. How much time do you need before your supply chain is functional? If you are buying, the tools are readily available, meaning your launch can progress that much faster. Would the best option be to initially launch with readily available tools, giving you the option to build on that as you scale as necessary?

Conclusion

The rising complexity of the workflow for broadcasters has led to a shift from building their own solutions, but that may not always result in the best outcome. As we have seen, there is obviously no one size fits all approach. The sheer scale of the availability of media-centric tools mean that the options are there for every possible media workflow, no matter how unique. For many, to perfect your workflow, a mix of both will be required. Buying the building blocks and then building the parts you need to help ensure a seamless workflow, maintaining the integrity needed for consumers without costing the earth.

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