Buy vs. Build – Why Translation and Localization Is Different

Most brands recognize the value of technology to achieve business basics, such as communication, or for publishing and maintaining a website. As they grow, many of them reach a point where they need to solve an existing problem, or overcome a new challenge, and technology again proves the best way to do so. The question then becomes: Buy vs. Build?

When considering whether to buy or build the target technology, companies generally fall into one of three categories, according to the approaches they each take:

1. Always choose to build

The typical example of companies that always choose to build is large software companies, who can be expected to have the right talent and internal resources to develop a product. Perhaps it will work out less expensive to develop the technology in-house, or if cost isn’t so much of an issue, it’s possible the brand emphasizes privacy, security, or a fully custom result. And then there are companies with legacy systems, such as home-grown booking engines that are considered too complex to do anything with than patch fixes and add-ons. But even these companies always choose to build unless absolutely necessary, and few would kill a project, or fail to fix a business issue to avoid ever having to buy technology externally.

2. Always choose to buy

It would be too simplistic to say that all brands other than software companies – or those traditionally considered within the technology bracket – always choose to buy. There are plenty of companies, from small and medium sized businesses, to corporate, public and enterprise, that establish internal technology departments and teams to build new technology. This leaves companies with minimal if any internal resources as the most likely and frequent buyers of technology solutions. But even then, many will always choose to buy unless feasible, practical and preferable to build in-house.

3. Always ask buy or build

Other brands take a more nuanced approach, and perform research and analysis, be that cost-benefit, total cost of ownership or some other criteria to arrive at a decision. For companies that always ask buy or build, even through an abbreviated process where possible, the question is always given the attention each problem or challenge deserves.

So, why build technology?

Generally, the arguments for building technology in-house revolve around cost, customization, privacy, security, having the resources available to get the job done, or even the complexity of a legacy solution. Each of these reasons to choose to build are perfectly fair, assuming that everything goes according to plan, and of course, if your company is up to the task, they become advantages.

But if internal resources fail to perfect just one of privacy, security, or customization, or if development overruns, resources become stretched, or the product sophistication needed proves out-of-reach, your brand will be responsible for picking up the pieces. Worse, you may end up buying what you now know is the right technology, on top of all the costs incurred from the unsuccessful in-house attempt to build.

Then, why buy technology?

A clear advantage of buying technology is that someone else is responsible. Someone else is responsible for the often years of development, many trials and errors, and blood, sweat and tears your teams can avoid. And they’re responsible for making sure the solution works for your needs, as far as promised and even further, now and going forward.

If they’ve caught your attention, they’ve probably also been ‘vetted’ by others in the market who are looking for and now using such products – and there may be sales or subscribers figures to back this up. Plus, technology that is available to buy, is usually technology that’s already available to use.

It’s also vitally important to consider the impact building a new technology, and drawing on those internal resources, may have on your other initiatives. If your developers were hired to create, maintain and improve an ecommerce platform, asking them to develop a marketing automation solution is sure to distract them from a primary focus you and everyone else at the company also have a stake in.

Buy vs. build to solve for translation and localization

Several major language service providers now offer technology alongside, or even central to their current offering, effectively building technology they now understand clients are looking for. By contrast, Smartling has always approached translation and localization in the knowledge that this highly complicated situation, demands a complex technology, packaged in an elegant solution.

By making this technology vendor-agnostic, your brand can get the best translation and localization technology, and use your choice of translators or language service provider. And beyond the central translation and localization technology, Smartling partners with companies such as Adobe, Drupal and Zendesk to provide connectors that allow for easy integration and give popular platforms global reach.

Learn more

Visit Smartling’s Resources page to gain further insights into how Smartling’s Technology can help your brand accelerate the translation and localization process, while learning about best practices for translation processes, tools, technology, management, how to select the best translation software, and more.