Sunday, June 17, 2012

Buy Versus DIY

There is a debate over buy versus do-it-yourself (DIY) and build versus buy. Lately, many companies looking for cloud services have chosen to buy. EarthLink, Windstream, CenturyLink, Verizon, TDS, TelePacific and ShoreTel to name a few. Why? Easier.

In building, you start with zero customers, no revenue, no processes in place, a huge learning curve, and no idea if the tech is good or will scale*. You also have fractured your focus from your primary business.

* As I have explained before, scale won't matter for many service providers, because they will not focus on marketing and sales, so will never achieve the number of customers that will challenge their technology. They will never have to scale - 300 simultaneous calls is about 1200-1500 handsets, which most VoIP SP's never hit.

Most of my clients have less than 15 employees. With that many, how many tech services can you build, maintain, scale, and be good at? Some of my clients will argue that they have a Wunderkind working for them. Well, what happens if something happens to the Wunderkind?

Think about a doctor's office, where at least one person is in charge of insurance payments. In telecom, at least person is in charge of telecom billing (checking and fixing the ILEC bills). Probably another is in charge of ordering and provisioning telecom services, although this is probably part-time. Hugging the box that runs a service 24/7 has to be someone's job, right? In the case of Voice services, at least 2 people have to hug the softswitch 24/7/365. [I am just demonstrating where your employees' focus and duties lie. It doesn't leave many employees left to build and maintain more services.]

If you pick a strategic partner, like Cbeyond did with Mozy for backup, there are a couple of advantages.
  • No CAPEX spent on hardware to build the backup solution. No development costs for the client software or web portal GUI.
  • Cbeyond can leverage the Mozy brand with a tagline, "Powered by MozyPro".
  • The Partner can offer best practices, marketing and tech support help.
  • You get to Focus on what you do best.
  • It gives you back time - time spent building and time to market.

The downside? You have to market and sell it - and many smaller service providers - ISP, WISP, ITSP, CLEC - love the technology challenge and hate selling.

In the end, whether it is tech that you built or bought or borrowed, you have to market and sell it.

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