The build vs buy debate: Why buying a connected products platform delivers


by Piet de Vriendt

While “digital transformation” is a buzzy, it still serves as an umbrella to encompass all manner of transformation. This includes traceability, product digitization and connected products – and the need to invest in a connected products platform. And how: what are your build vs buy considerations?

The evolving and converging landscapes of regulatory compliance, supply chain visibility, consumer experience and sustainability and circularity makes product digitization and managing connected products critical to remaining compliant and competitive across industries. Ensuring the ability to track products throughout their lifecycle and seamlessly digitize processes can offer numerous benefits, from improving supply chain efficiency to enhancing customer experiences. 

However, the decision to implement such capabilities often comes with the build vs buy choice. This means choosing between building an in-house traceability solution from scratch or buying a managed software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform. While building your own may offer immediate appeal for control and customizability, there are compelling reasons why buying a connected products platform delivers greater value in the long run.

Scalability and cost predictability

Building an in-house traceability and product digitization platform entails numerous hidden costs that can quickly escalate. These costs include software development, infrastructure setup, hiring skilled developers, and ongoing maintenance and innovation. The unpredictable nature of software development can result in budget overruns. It becomes challenging to accurately estimate both upfront development costs, operational costs, and the total cost of ownership.

On the other hand, examining build vs buy operationally, you can look at various but fixed pricing models, providing a predictable cost structure. This allows you to budget effectively and allocate resources more efficiently. Furthermore, as your business grows, a SaaS platform can scale without needing additional infrastructure or development resources. This scalability ensures that you’re always equipped to meet evolving business needs.

Buy support and expertise, don’t build

Developing a traceability and product digitization platform from scratch requires a specialized skill set, which may not be readily available within your organization. Hiring and retaining skilled developers with experience in this domain can be both time-consuming and expensive – and potentially completely outside the scope of your core business. Add to this the challenges of staying up to date with rapidly shifting technology advancements.

By choosing a SaaS solution, you gain access to a team of experts whose entire focus is building and refining the platform. These experts ensure that the platform is continuously updated with the latest features, security enhancements, and industry best practices, allowing your business to stay ahead of the curve without diverting your attention from your core competencies.

Relieve maintenance, knowledge and update burden

The journey doesn’t end once your in-house platform is up and running. Software maintenance is ongoing and demands dedicated resources and unpredictable time and effort.

A SaaS traceability and product digitization platform handles much of this maintenance for you. The provider takes care of updates, improvements, and troubleshooting, freeing your IT team to focus on more strategic initiatives rather than firefighting technical issues.

Lower total cost of ownership (TCO)

In considering build vs buy, the total cost of ownership is a key question. Building includes investment well beyond the initial costs of developing an in-house platform. With an in-house solution, you’re responsible for not only the development and deployment costs but also ongoing maintenance, upgrades, security, standards, interoperability of data, and the potential need for a larger IT team.

When considering a SaaS platform, the benefits of rapid deployment, reduced maintenance, scalability, and access to expertise all contribute to this lower TCO, making the SaaS option the more financially sound choice in the long run in almost all cases.

Rapid deployment and time-to-market

Building a comprehensive platform from scratch can take months or even years, involving a significant investment of time, money, and resources. During this time, your competitors who choose to buy a pre-built solution could have already established a competitive edge, leaving you to catch up.

A ready-made but customizable traceability framework can help you quickly launch the platform and start benefiting from its features. This significantly reduces your time-to-market and allows you to focus on driving value. And removes the weight behind the build vs buy debate.

Build or buy? 

The decision to build vs buy a SaaS traceability and product digitization platform ultimately depends on your specific business needs and circumstances. And the cost-effectiveness of purchasing a managed SaaS solution is clear. The speed of deployment, cost predictability, scalability, access to expertise, and reduced maintenance burden all combine to make the SaaS option a compelling choice for companies aiming to capitalize on the advantages of traceability and digitization while minimizing risks and costs. 

With the Kezzler Connected Products Platform, you can get the best of both worlds. About 80% of the platform is pre-built and applicable across use cases and industries. The other 20% is customizable to your specific traceability requirements. And our engineering team can help you develop what you need to scale for that last mile.

Leveraging the capabilities of a SaaS platform enables organizations to focus on innovation, growth, and customer satisfaction. This ultimately leads to a more competitive and sustainable future.

Find out more about the Kezzler Connected Products Platform.