Duc Chau is the Chief Technology Officer of Yieldmo, a leader in digital advertising and attention analytics.
Composition is “the act of combining parts or elements to form a whole.” I think about product development this way to successfully deliver a product for general availability ready for users. For example, I ask the following: What team members are needed? What skill sets should they have? What features are necessary for the product? How should it be built? Often, businesses fall short on at least one of these questions. This is why you might want to consider including software as a service (SaaS) into your product development processes and tech stack to help “form a whole.”
In today’s business climate, many companies leverage the services of third-party vendors to help them accelerate growth. The offerings vary from e-commerce to infrastructure to data warehouses and even banking. Some of these companies use cloud services to support their e-commerce presence and critical infrastructure. SaaS vendors such as Shopify, Salesforce and Amazon’s AWS do the heavy lifting to ensure their customers can scale and stay relevant in the ever-changing landscape of technical innovation.
In my industry of online advertising, we benefit from the cloud’s ecosystem of partners, stability, scalability, rapid feature expansion and the plethora of managed service features. Cloud providers serve some of the largest data-driven enterprises worldwide, including Netflix, eBay and Apple, to name a few. I have experienced firsthand the significant amount of time, effort and cost that it takes to support custom in-house technology. Depending on the stage of a company, SaaS offerings, when integrated strategically, can provide the benefit of scale, speed and subject matter expertise when building a product. This allows companies with limited resources to stay focused, decrease cost, move fast and increase revenue rapidly.
Advantages and disadvantages can vary when developing solutions in-house or using SaaS. Having built custom technologies and managed infrastructures that handled over 1 trillion transactions a day, I faced many financial, organizational and recruiting challenges related to finding, staffing and retaining the right technological and human resources to support an in-house solution to ensure we were constantly evolving. That said, the control and customization that comes with developing in-house solutions is very advantageous. You aren’t bound to any limits in terms of what you can do. You are able to design things just as they are needed.
For companies looking to move fast and have an eye on costs, leveraging SaaS and cloud-based solutions can be sound choices. It is critical to include a proper disaster recovery strategy, have a resilient system design and ensure that incident management plans are in place when using SaaS. A disadvantage to using SaaS is often the loss of control. Your product and infrastructure are now dependent on another company. To solve for this, it is wise to have a multivendor strategy, thus avoiding vendor lock-in when possible and ensuring your system is portable and redundant.
Innovation is not always about building. Innovation is intelligently utilizing resources to solve problems creatively. The reluctance to explore outside resources can keep companies from disrupting and changing the world. Rather, the most innovative companies today create business models and products to help drive efficiency. Technology teams should share the same spirit when finding solutions to product development. Although SaaS products may not always be the right choice, in today’s fast-developing technology ecosystem, it would be a mistake not to take a moment to consider their benefits.