To Build In-House or Outsource …That Is the Question!

April 26, 2015
I sat in on a most interesting session at the SISO CEO Summit in USA last week. The “Big Guns” were on stage - Mike Rusbridge Chairman Reed Exhibitions, Joe Loggia CEO UBM / Advanstar, David Kieselstein CEO Penton - all discussing their strategies to increase attendance at their events.
 
Not surprisingly, they are investing heavily developing in-house technology to assist in this strategy. What shocked me was the amount of money they admitted to investing – on average 5% of revenue – annually!
 
That’s the problem with technology. You can’t just develop a tool and let it sit. You have to keep maintaining it, upgrading it and enhancing it otherwise it is out-of-date from the day you finish the project.  Although in-house developed software may work well for a while, it will become defunct in a few years unless you continue to spend more money on developing it.
 
Commercial software has the benefit of being extensively tested and used by other businesses. This can make for a quicker and smoother integration. In a fast-paced business world, this can save valuable time so you can get back to what’s important…running your shows!
 
Not every exhibition organiser has the financial means of a company like these big international giants to invest in software development, and even if you do, do you really want to jump down that rabbit hole?
 
Ray Kurzweil, inventor & futurist: An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential…So we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate).
 
So how do you figure out how much it is going to cost you to develop something in-house or license to a third party? A company called ComponentOne Studio put together a simple free ROI calculator that helps determine whether you should build or buy.
 
Technology is currently changing faster than ever before with transformations happening exponentially. Third party event technology vendors are devoting time and money in keeping their platforms relevant so that you don’t have to. And as Mike Rusbridge said, “If you’re not digitally enabled it will soon be game over.”
 
How much are you spending on developing technology in-house?

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