Integrating with third parties on your digital strategy
17 February 2022 • 5 min read
Technology enhances our lives and businesses every day. But as systems continue to advance and update, keeping up with the pace of change can be a challenge, leaving companies with outdated or complex tech that hinders rather than helps.
Organisations that have spent a lot of money on bespoke or monolithic systems often worry that when they want to progress their digital strategy, their options will be limited. They’re concerned that their current tech won’t fit their future needs, so they adopt workarounds and mould their plans around the systems at hand. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
At AND Digital, we know that with the right skills and experience, you can integrate your current platforms and processes. This can be quite a daunting task, but if you’re prepared to put the work in, you can truly take control of your technology, rather than bending to conform to it.
If you are interested in how we worked collaboratively with ASDA to support their integration with third parties, why not download our whitepaper, "Exploring customer loyalty in the ecommerce era". You will get insights into customer loyalty and how to implement a successful loyalty program in your organisation.
Organisations with a composable ecosystem (one that’s made up of a number of parts), will be more agile, have more flexibility, and be able to pinpoint specific areas for improvement. However, there are certain downsides. For example, if your infrastructure is at the mercy of many different solutions, what would be a minor outage in one system could have major repercussions across your entire ecosystem. It’s also very easy to keep adding tech to your stack, making governance an issue.
Identifying the ideal solution for your project
No matter which side of the fence you fall, if you’re going through a major business change, one question comes up regardless of your size or industry; ‘Should I buy or should I build?’. How you answer that question depends on a few key considerations:
How much is development going to set you back? Will it be worth the investment? These questions are naturally front of mind when embarking on a new project, and organisations tend to favour the most cost-effective and efficient solution. But with so many moving parts and fundamental changes involved, the best value solution isn't always clear. Keep an open mind to the different options available and work out which is the best fit for your business.
How long will the solution take to deliver? Will a working version be available in round one? Major projects can often take longer to deliver than expected due to scope creep, ongoing business pressures and the changing availability of your teams, so timelines are almost always fluid. Make space in your schedule for these inevitable delays and map out a minimum viable solution, so you know at what point you can begin to pilot your new system.
Will an off-the-shelf solution meet your specific needs? If you use your own developers to build a bespoke solution in-house, are you setting yourself up for long-term maintenance costs? The level of control required will depend on the task, but remember to balance your need for complete control with other pressures.
Will you secure a worthwhile return on your investment? Are your teams better focused on a specific part of the process? Weigh up the options. By owning the build, you can create a bespoke solution that meets your exact requirements – it may be worth a greater investment for greater impact. On the other hand, if there’s a suitable solution available, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
Are you adding another platform into your ecosystem? Does it integrate with your current stack? Think carefully about the connectivity you can gain through integrations. If you choose an off-the-shelf option, you need to consider how it integrates with your existing systems – otherwise, you could risk causing a bigger problem than the one you were trying to fix. Building your own solution could minimise this risk, but you’d need the right skill sets in house to get started.
There are many considerations involved. But as you start to formulate your digital strategy, the thing to remember is that it is possible to find a middle ground between buying and building. How? Bring in a digital delivery partner, such as AND Digital.
Reducing staffing costs and training time
It’s very rare that organisations have the exact skills and knowledge they need at each stage of their digital journey. This isn’t to say that in-house teams can’t deliver a build, however, there may not be the prolonged need for a certain role to justify hiring a full-time member of staff. Equally, it may be quicker and cheaper to bring in an expert, rather than waiting to upskill an existing employee to the level you need for the project.
Finding the fabled middle ground
There are many benefits to outsourcing your project and collaborating with a digital technology agency like AND Digital. Our experts will support you in formulating your digital strategy, answering the questions above to help you find the fabled middle ground between building and buying.
Building skills and solutions
At AND Digital, we believe in building skills, not reliance. So when you partner with us, we’ll not only design and develop your ideal digital solution, we’ll also upskill your staff on the job, equipping them with the expertise and mindset to continue the project when we’re no longer needed. You’ll benefit from a more productive, agile team long after we’re gone.
Working with external agencies is a great way to embrace specialist knowledge and expedite development, but it does present its own challenges – especially if there are multiple organisations supporting a wider build. But by aligning all partners under a shared vision and building in contingencies as required, you can reap the benefits as one big team.
If you get this right, the results will speak for themselves.
This is the approach we took with ASDA to deliver their brand-new customer loyalty programme, currently trialling in 16 stores. We worked collaboratively with a number of third parties, establishing agile working and effective communication across relevant areas of the business to produce the best results in the shortest amount of time.
If you found this article helpful, why not take a look at our whitepaper “Exploring customer loyalty in the ecommerce era” which gives insights into modern customer loyalty programs and how to ensure you are keeping your customer at the heart of your offering,