Modern Operations: Build, Buy, or Partner?

Erik Udstuen, CEO & Co-Founder at TwinThread

If you are a manufacturer contemplating different predictive platforms and providers, you could potentially be quite overwhelmed - and for good reason. No matter what you plan to take on, there’s always the looming concern of whether you’ll be able to achieve a solid return on investment. One of the most common dilemmas in deciding on enterprise grade solutions is the “build, buy or partner” conundrum. Like with most decisions, it’s not so black and white. Each option comes with its own pros and cons.

When it comes to predictive solutions - in particular - making the decision to build, buy or partner will require some soul-searching and deep thought on what it is that your organization really needs. In this resource, we will discuss 4 reasons why there’s a good chance it makes sense for your organization to buy into (or partner around) your predictive solution, instead of endeavoring to build your own platform from scratch. The topics discussed throughout this resource may help you keep your eyes on the prize and clarify what it is that you should be seeking to claim ownership over.

A Plan for Scale & Speed

Let’s discuss the most important reason for buying into or partnering with a pre-baked predictive solution, right off the top. With any initiative you take on within your business, you should always be focused on the desired outcome. With the implementation of a Predictive Operations Platform, the intended result is being empowered to easily gather key insight and operationalize it fast. So, you should strategize and select the best method for achieving that goal in the shortest order.

Once you’ve concluded that you’d like to get a head-start in uncovering insights through the use of an existing option, the question then becomes, which solution is going to provide your organization (in particular) with the greatest opportunity to take action immediately. The answer is simple - one that works with your data and, more importantly, with your experts. It’s for this reason why drawing on a predictive solution that’s backed and supported by industry experience is so important. With the solution provider as your partner, you’ll be able to navigate toward intended results much faster than the alternative - attempting to uncover insight without established predictive application expertise.

When it comes to speed, keep in mind that you want fast success or fast failure. You want to know quickly whether a particular predictive solution will produce the insights you are looking to find. Building something from scratch may eventually result in a platform that offers your in-house experts key information they can apply - but it won’t happen fast.

Starting from square one will ensure that potential operational improvements won’t be identified and acted upon for quite some time. And, that’s assuming a success case. The most frightening outcome is one where you put a large amount of time, effort, and investment into developing your own solution, only to learn that it is incapable of offering valuable insight.

Prevent this threat to the sustainability of your operation by skipping several unnecessary steps and get right to the nitty-gritty - will this solution empower my domain experts to overcome challenges, or will I need to look elsewhere?

There isn’t a business case for intentionally slowing the pace of any performance-driving endeavor. When it comes to realizing improvements, faster will always be better. Don’t make the conscious choice to go slow and steady. The competitive advantage always goes to those who get there first.

What is it That You Need Control Over?

It’s understandable to want to own every detail associated with your operation. However, that’s not necessarily practical. Especially if the ultimate goal is to realize greater performance at speed - and, of course it is.

The question your organization needs to consider is, should you be concerned about having total proprietary ownership over a predictive solution, or should you be focused on owning your operational data, metrics, models, process / workflow, and overall performance? What it really comes down to is, are you planning on becoming an IIoT solution provider, or are you planning on becoming (or remaining) the best performer in your particular market?

Own your data and the results you can produce from accurately mining it. Leave establishing a predictive platform (that’s compatible with your information and experts) to those who are solely focused on doing just that. Adopt a “Partner Ecosystem” mentality - empowering you to accomplish more by bringing third-party expertise into your fold (Build vs. Buy for Industrial IoT Solutions, PTC Inc.).

Managing the web of events that occur across your operations is no small feat (without support). This is the exact reason why you’ve considered implementing a predictive platform in the first place - to solve more problems with the same level of effort. Your engineers want their capabilities to be maximized.

By drawing on a proven platform, and truly owning your insights, you’re enabling them to resolve more issues in the same amount of time. If there’s a vehicle that can take you where you want to be now, instead of later, why wait or defer? Empower your problem-solvers to start taking more action toward greater efficiency.

Configure, Don’t Code

The decision on whether to build, buy, or partner takes thought to figure out what will be best for your organization and its in-house innovators (who will be making use of the platform they’ve been provided).

Your organization’s operational needs are not unchanging over time, so your business solutions shouldn’t be either. Whether you build, buy, or partner, the platform is going to need to continue to grow and evolve with your organization. Those adaptations will need to come quick so you can reap as much reward as is possible.

Our two cents? Buy as much as you can and then partner to iterate on the rest, adapting as your needs dictate. An out-of-the-box platform will get you on the right foot in many respects and where there are opportunities to add further features, that can be accomplished quickly (with a solution provider there to guide the way).

The key here is that you invest in a solution (and provider) that favors its functionality toward your in-house expertise. Without your problem-solvers being catered to, operationalizing insight will be hampered. The most important “configuration” in any solution is that it positions your people for success (speed to actionable insight).

Demonstrated Success Early

Any foray presents a risk. Change, while necessary, contains many unknown variables. Even if you build up as much understanding as you reasonably can in preparation for setting out on a new course - it’s still uncharted territory. So, why would you do that alone and without any background, when you can welcome in a resource with a wealth of experience?

Forget about growing pains and trial and error. Having to test, learn and adapt, and repeat that process over and over again - just to finally arrive where you need to be to start producing results isn’t the most sustainable methodology. “A large risk when you build a piece of software is whether or not you deliver. We’ve all been a part of software projects that deliver late or not at all, even though large amounts of money were invested in them. The risk can be higher or lower based on what kind of software you’re trying to build” (The Build vs. Buy Decision Tree, Scalyr).

Instead of spinning your tires, continually subjecting your organization to the risk of lost profit, missed optimizations and frustrated experts, eliminate those exposures by implementing a platform that’s been time tested. The provider has already learned all those hard lessons for you. No need to duplicate their painstaking efforts.

It all comes down to what’s best for your business and its continued growth and success. There’s very little, if anything, that’s done in the blind when it comes to your operations - why would you look at this decision any differently? Don’t guess, by doing it yourself. Know, by collaborating with a predictive provider who can clearly show how they’ve done it again and again - and fast.

Get started

This topic is not an uncommon discussion when attempting to choose the right way forward for your operation’s predictive platform. So, don’t feel disheartened if you’re uncertain about the best approach. We encourage you to keep your end goals top of mind. If you’re able to boil down what you’re looking to achieve, allowing those objectives to influence your approach should see you realize what it is you’ve set out to accomplish.

Whether you’re seeking greater efficiency in quality, throughput and energy, or are looking to more accurately forecast uptime, asset reliability and asset life - you want insights as soon as possible. The waiting game can be frustrating and will be costly. Don’t jump through hoops when you don’t have to. Empower your problem-solvers to take action now, with a predictive solution that’s ready to go and easy to connect.

If you’d like to learn more about what a speed-driven Predictive Operations Platform looks like and how fast you should be able to access actionable insights, get started here.