Data Preparation – Make or Buy Decision

Make or Buy decision is always in the minds of the executives in any product or services areas especially when working on cutting edge products.  The key question I always ask is what is the core-competency  of the Organization – Refer to the ground breaking paper ‘The core competency of an Organization by Prof. CK Prahalad, Prof. Gary Hammel.

If the focus of the organization is understanding their business better, making  predictions about their customer behavior or business, improving  customer engagement,  optimizing their supply chain, integrating their financial assets for better governance and a plethora of other use cases then Buying a service or product which does data preparation seems like a right choice.   While there may be slight learning curve in using such products the returns can be very valuable.   The following are some of the points where buying can have an positive impact than making:

  • Human resource – Hiring people with with right skills can be a challenge. Having a army of resources can be actually counter productive.
  • Communicating requirements – Data preparation for Big Data is better done when the data domain expert has dialog with the data. Since most of the time you are in a discovery mode having someone to do it can be difficult and in many cases does not make sense. It is like Mr. Monk, the detective, having some one look for clues !
  • Time to Decision – With everything moving at the speed of light spending time in areas which is not your core competency can be counter productive
  • Hardware and software choices – These can be difficult.  POC can be never ending and without proper objectives for evaluating the functionality or performance it can end up as  a research project with  pile of documents leading to no decisions.

The strategy to make depends on the following factors –

  • The product or service does not meet the Pareto’s rule (80-20) in functionality or performance.
  • The  organization is well versed with data preparation and the process is so customized that migrating to another product does not meet the ROI.

One important question that typically comes up whether it is buy or make is whether to go cloud or on-premises – I will discuss this in my upcoming blog.

Also, refer to my other related blogs on this subject ….

Data Preparation for Big Data

Data Preparation sub-systems for Big Data

BI in the era of Big Data

What do you like to do – build or buy ? and why ? Feedback – Discussion appreciated !



About atiru

Product Strategist and architect for harnessing value from data.
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