Over the past 20 years, we have witnessed tremendous tech evolution. We all watched e-commerce move from an additional option to a vital organ in the body of any successful business. Staying ahead of the competition now relies on the constant evolution of digital experiences, which puts an increasing demand on your business leaders and developers to innovate and deliver exceptional customer experiences.

In this post, I discuss the pros and cons of building vs buying a data layer, and we answer some common misperceptions with each solution to help you make an informed decision on whether to buy software off the shelf or build a custom solution.

Let's take a look at Build

Digital and tech leader are trying to find best of breed solutions before building, but as the tech landscape rapidly develops you might have a hard time following the development of solutions in the landscape. Then it can be tempting to start building yourself. Either you are pressured to deliver to the business, or your development team want to build cool stuff using the latest and greatest technology. You can build everything in the cloud. How hard can it be?

Building your own custom solution gives you control to create something unique that works exactly how you need it and integrates to the systems and the data that you require for your project. You can outline exactly what you need, and your team can build around this. Sounds perfect, right? Hmmm, maybe not quite so …

Here are the things you must consider:

  • Time taken away from other projects
    Choosing to build your own solution requires talented developers who are loyal to supporting the project far beyond the completion phase, and it also demands a lot of time away from other important projects. You also need to consider the ongoing maintenance after the project end, both with updating the code and with supporting the users. Can you afford to have people dedicated to this? Would it be ok for your business users to wait for a project like this to finish before getting help on their tasks?
  • Team members come and go
    It’s super common for companies to be left in the dark with over-complicated code created by developers who no longer work for the business, which leads to an ongoing maintenance cost, the need to hire new developers, and sometimes build the codebase again from scratch. You likely will spend a lot of unnecessary time on handovers or trials and errors trying to understand what the code is intended to do.
  • Cloud Products can be complicated to stitch together
    Various cloud vendors are providing a lot of capabilities out-of-the-box but not everything works seamlessly together, you will need to build various flows and integrations to make them work. The key challenge is stitching together your different platforms. Every platform provides their own API interfaces to receive data, but no platform wants to own the process of sending data, which requires custom coding of data processing logic.
  • Integrations can be lengthy
    All systems have different ways of interaction. The various systems all have their own ways of modelling their data, and you normally need to find the least common denominator between the systems you are integrating to get any data across. Integrations like these are often cumbersome to build and maintain since the data model can change over time and you then get stuck in the ever-lasting change request management loop, customizing code and data models at multiple places.
  • Cost
    A major pull in favour of build over buy is cost. Internal IT projects empower you to decide how much you want to spend on development. But in truth, the cost to build is unpredictable because you can’t pre-empt the costs after the initial build, such as bug fixes, upgrades to keep up with market trends, and support. Gallup reports that 1-in-6 IT projects have an average cost overrun of 200%! Software solutions that you buy typically include upgrades and bug fixes at a predetermined cost.
  • Do you have the right skills and know-how?
    In my opinion, the most important thing to consider when building on your own data layer, is the vast number of different tech components that you need to have expertise in. It is not only data storage and data processing, but also about performance, security, API management, event management, availability, delivery networks, and more. These components require multiple experts to stay on top of the solution as a whole.

Without the right skills and an abundance of time, you may effectively be setting out to build a formula one car with nothing but the steering wheel in check. Do you have the funds, skills, and money to build the rest of the car?

How does this compare to buying your data layer?

For companies to thrive in a fast-moving and ever-changing business landscape it's time we take a step back and rethink how we build, connect, and use technology going forward. The digital leader's objective always serves to increase revenue, reduce cost, or increase speed in execution.

Does your team have the expertise for this particular solution? Do they have the resource to spend time learning something new, including trial and error? Can you afford to take your experts away from other projects?

Acquiring existing software that’s ready to go can provide you with a cookie-cutter solution. It can be less costly and much faster to implement something that’s pre-made and most importantly, pre-tested.

See Occtoo use cases

Here are some of the BIGGEST benefits of buying a solution:

  • The solution you choose is a shared problem with all other buyers
    This means that your solution provider is motivated to continually seek ways to improve the product in order to keep all of their customers satisfied. The product is effectively in a consistent feedback loop with yourself and fellow consumers, so it won’t stop evolving beyond the initial build and sign off and you’ll benefit from the latest upgrades,
  • You instantly become part of a wider community with similar goals and ambitions.
  • Your solution provider likely has an entire team of resources who work solely on your unique solution
    Unlike when you build a solution and have to relieve your team for a multitude of other jobs, a product you buy comes with a dedicated team of experts who are still improving the product and ready to fix any bugs as soon as the arise.
  • You don’t have to finance the software 100% by yourself 
    When you build, you are funding 100% of the software, but when you buy the software, you simply pay to rent the solution and the total cost is shared amongst many other customers.
  • You can implement the solution much faster 
    You’ve established your need and now you have to wait for a solution to be built and tested? Not when you buy a ready-made, peer-reviewed solution. You can implement a solution within days, tick off that long standing project, and your team can get back to spending to developing more great innovations for your brand.
  • Acquiring existing software can provide you with a cookie-cutter solution
    It can be less costly and faster to implement something that’s “pre-made”.


I hope I’ve offered you some useful insight to consider around the build vs buy conundrum. Ultimately, you need to consider the most favorable conditions for your organization and team bandwidth, then choose the option that makes the most business sense.

Occtoo’s primary objective is to solve your challenges by reducing the time you spend on connecting data to your frontend experiences. With our unique product we empower the digital teams to serve the developer with relevant experience data at a fraction of the cost using a traditional approach.

Unify, increase, faster (1200 × 227 px)

If you’re currently weighing up your options, please reach out so we can offer you more support and answer the questions you need to make the best decision for your team.

Learn more about Occtoo


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