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Forget About Build vs Buy – Pilot and Iterate Your Needs

When mobile devices first became enterprise friendly in 2011, large enterprise companies began flocking to hire developers who could create custom apps for their business.

The “app for that” craze promised immediate benefits for end users who could now get more done from wherever they worked, right from the devices in their pocket.

This was an exciting time for enterprise organizations who had powerful IT and development teams. However, many of these apps were built from a corporate standpoint with little or no influence from the end users, leaving a misalignment between what users needed and what was being built for them.

In 2019 I have been witnessing to some of the Fortune 50 companies re-evaluating their strategy of investing in their homegrown sales app.

Here are a few reasons I believe this is happening.

Increased Awareness of Outside Vendors

When I started working for Bigtincan in 2013, terms like “sales enablement” and “sales automation” simply didn’t exist.

Today, entire companies are dedicated to creating modern tools for salespeople.

These tools are dedicated to freeing up every last bit of “time to sell,” while looking to pinch every productivity and efficiency penny.

Sales enablement organizations that have popped up across nearly every major F1000 company over the last 6 years have looked to outside vendors to solve their problems no matter how big or small.

This has created tremendous demand.

Take a look at Nancy Nardin’s Sales Technology Landscape.

From point solutions to entire platforms, there are numerous players that can address an entire business transformation.

The reality is sales organizations now have a massive pool of vendors who can meet their sales enablement needs.

These vendors take away the need for an in-house development effort, saving companies time and money in the long run.

Many of the vendors will even work with you to customize their solutions or pricing models to look, feel, and budget like an internal build.

Focusing on Core Competencies

Two massive technology companies that I have been working with this year have done a lot of self-reflection on their existing home-grown apps.

While they are proud of what they’ve built, they can’t help but wonder if developing these apps is a distraction from their company’s core mission.

For them, the idea of migrating their internal solutions to a fully managed vendor platform while focusing their team’s effort on things like better content, processes, field visits, and engaging with vendors to shape roadmaps to meet their business objectives is exciting.

Pilots! The Power of Iteration

Building an app internally for the scale of a large enterprise organization is likely going to come with an upfront cost of $1M or more for the first build.

This is a sunk cost and you can’t redo, adjust, or pivot once you’ve started without significant costs of delay.

One of the major trends I am seeing in 2019 is a shift to customers coming to vendors with a clear set of baseline needs and vision for their “app.” They know what they want and just need to find the vendor that can make their ideas come to fruition.

Customers choose a vendor based on various criteria including their experience, suggestions, alignment to their goals and objectives, and perhaps most importantly, how quickly and effectively the vendor can get the solution rolled out.   

A pilot is a great way to test out the solution that your chosen vendor has developed for you.

With a pilot you don’t have to fully roll out the solution and can provide the vendor feedback on things that need to be fixed and/or altered, or back out all together if you’re not satisfied.

Although most pilots require payment, they are a much cheaper way of getting to the end solution you’re looking for than building one on your own.

As your prepare for 2020 and you think about building a sales app, consider the fact that more likely then not, a vendor exists that has a very similar solution that they can adapt to fit your needs. 

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