These days, it’s not enough to digitise one part of your business and expect positive results for the entire organisation. Companies that are profitable deliver game-changing experiences and products, adopting and integrating digital technologies to achieve higher efficiency and new growth.

These businesses embrace change and leverage the right combinations of digital technologies, and they do it continuously. They know how to digitally reinvent their operating models, production, and value chains to deliver meaningful worker and customer experiences, at speed and scale. Plus, they are markedly better than their peers at combining digital technologies profitably. However, some questions that need to be addressed include:

  • How do business leaders decide?
  • How do they make these decisions?
  • When should they invest into some technologies and more importantly, how do they make these investments?
  • Do they build their own solutions, or do they buy off-the-shelf?


Buy vs build

The guiding principles are usually the following: You build for competitive advantage and you buy for parity. This has guided many businesses over the last 20 years with regard to IT investments.

Using these principles made more sense in the world of ERP applications but does this still hold water with the advent of new fast-changing technologies like big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain, augmented reality, mixed reality, robotics, etc.

Software as a service has also created new complexities. Corporates needed and still need to make the leap from Capex investments to Opex investments. Businesses that have been very good at sweating their software assets were all of a sudden faced with the decision of renting software and no longer owning it.

Low code application development platforms have also created expectations with businesses that they can do more and do it cheaply. Citizen development being the flavour of the day, can create the promise of additional IT capacity and capability. Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of citizen development, but I have yet to see complex solutions developed by this initiative. If there are examples of enterprise-grade citizen developed solutions out there, I would argue that those resources are no longer citizen developers but have been successfully converted and re-skilled to be professional developers.

The current stats on business users becoming citizen developers are pretty sobering.

0.5% – 1.5% of a user community can successfully transition to become proper citizen developers and 0.3% – 0.5% of the users can become professional developers.

Keep this in mind when thinking of running a low code self-service platform in your business. Most low-code platforms are really development accelerators (they assist professional developers to fast-track their development efforts) more than business user self-help, development platforms.

Unfortunately, many software vendors are selling low-code as the holy grail to businesses and create expectations that never realise, at least not in terms of complex, enterprise-grade solutions.

The above points illustrate the complexity in making these decisions. This is all assuming that corporates are following a well-defined, mature procurement process.

So, let’s assume an organisation is needing to invest in technology (software or hardware solution). They start an RFx (information, proposal, quote) process, right? The problem with these process are as follows: If the Enterprise Architecture of the organisation is not in place and up to date, these processes could include technical and environmental requirements that do not support a successful outcome.

Some businesses are still using the normal build or buy principle, and with low-code / self-help platforms, this has made the build option more attractive although not more successful.

Based on a survey from 900 large enterprises, only 13 percent of executives believe they are getting both top-line and bottom-line growth from their investments. Successful businesses, however, know how to digitally reinvent their operating models, production, and value chains to deliver meaningful employee and customer experiences, at speed and scale. In addition, they are markedly better than their peers at combining digital technologies profitably.

Conversational AI as an example

A good example of a technology investment, that is making businesses apprehensive, is conversational AI (which includes chatbots). You can’t turn left without tripping over a person or company that is developing chatbots. It’s the latest technology being sold as self-help, do-it-yourself technology. I myself have been involved with low-code development for the last 10 years, and have successfully used these platforms to add value to businesses. Every now and then, the question would come from the business, “Can we do it ourselves?”. I am always very diplomatic without being rude…“Yes, but you need to have the aptitude and capacity to develop solutions”.

It’s not just about the technical skills which can be considerable depending on the complexity of the solutions, but also the ability to apply to correct methodologies and governance when it comes to software development projects. This last part is usually where people get stuck. This is not something that everyone can or wants to do.

You can create a chatbot in Facebook messenger? Great. Okay, you have a platform with drag and drop functionality? Awesome. Here are the questions worth more pondering:

  • What can this chatbot do?
  • How long does it take to develop?
  • Where is the code?
  • Does it integrate with your legacy applications?
  • What kind of analytics is it producing?
  • Who is developing the personas, the tonality, linguistics, personality, and psychology of your conversational AI solution?
  • Are you becoming a chatbot development company now?
  • Do you have a team dedicated to managing these solutions?
  • Do you have all the relevant skills? Who ensures that this solution scale, evolve, and learn?

This is where things become undone and where businesses are NOT getting the top and bottom-line growth from their solutions and where their conversational AI strategy is not scaling.

To round off, why buy when you can rent?

Artificial intelligence and conversational solutions are very powerful and can/will add extreme value to your organisation. Designing a quick FAQ chatbot is easy. Designing an end-to-end integrated customer sales, policy retention, customer service, payment collection custom-styled, multi-channel solution is a different story.

It requires skills and experience. Thus, when it comes to technology opportunities, I would look at the RENT option. Why buy when you can rent? Partnering with a conversational AI company to go on this journey with you can ensure that you get a faster return on investment, without needing to invest in the required internal talent; without buying a platform that could become a white elephant. They can help you build a center of excellence. Your team can access their experts and understand the quick wins and challenges before experiencing them.

Ideally, aim for a performance-based commercial model. If you request a chatbot to be developed, agree on performance indicators and if the solution makes or saves you money, let that be the basis of the commercial model. That way you can be sure that the solution development company is as invested in making sure the solution works, as you are.

Written by Marius Botha (Managing Director | Technologist | Coach | Conversational AI Evangelist)


For more information about conversational AI solutions, Chat to us:
At FinChatBot, our conversational AI solutions are integrated to accomplish speed, cost savings and growth. Our passion for technology ensures that we remain on the cutting edge of development with regards to Conversational AI. Our software constantly learns and assimilates information to provide a personalised experience for each customer.

The tone, language, and approach is customisable to meet the ethos of your brand. We accomplish this mission by using existing messenger services (especially WhatsApp) to meet customers where they’re at, with a platform that they are comfortable with.

If you are interested in integrating conversational AI into your business to better serve customers, increase efficiency and reduce operational costs, click here to request a demo.

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