June 14, 2023
5 min read
We’ve had dozens of discovery calls with technical people since we started Rollee and faced the initial willingness to build instead of buying our solution from some of them. It's usually the case when the CTO knows how to build integrations or plans to get them from the platforms directly. Build or buy: as a tech company, we often have to deal with this dilemma, making those reactions understandable. However, relying on an external infrastructure is a better strategic choice than investing time in the wrong asset. Because this is where we’ve seen the main mistake some companies are making: thinking that building data accessibility (integrations) is a relevant asset for their company. Their main asset is and will always be the data they collect and how this data can help them build use cases to create more value for their customers. Let’s go deeper into some points there:
The easiest way to build an integration is through a well-documented public API, which usually doesn’t take developers weeks to build. But what happens when the platform you want to integrate (freelance platforms, HR software…) hasn't considered opening their API? We’ve seen two different approaches in our customers and lead base:
For both approaches, all companies understand the need to rely on an external unified API when they need to deliver faster but no longer at “any cost”.
A recurrent mantra we heard over the past three years was “Grow at any cost”. Companies multiplied the number of internal projects to achieve their growth plans without considering capital efficiency. It implied dedicating technical people to projects that don’t bring sustainable value to the business. This time is over. And in a period where each dollar invested has to generate a clear ROI, building in-house integrations is one of them. Indeed, the purpose of building integration is to access data to operate a product and drive decisions.
It simply means you are creating value only if you know how to leverage the data, and the time invested into accessing it would be worthless. It impacts your business in several dimensions, and to outline a few of them:
As I shared previously, building, maintaining, and unifying integrations requires involving Backend, Data and DevOps Engineers. Suppose you take an average monthly cost of 8500 euros for each position, considering one of each position is enough. In that case, you end up with ~300k euros of annual expenses for a non-valuable asset, while you can divide it by at least 2 with an external infrastructure. Because the data collected has to be processed by an operating team of Product Managers, Risk analysts and Data Scientists who will run your decision engine. Moreover, the number of Engineers is growing with the number of integrations you plan to add and their complexity. This can lead to millions of euros of annual costs for companies with a large audience like Financial Superapp or Neobanks.
“We plan to expand to this region, and we need to move fast. Do you support those integrations?”. Entering new markets is a growth catalyst for scale-ups. Those who initially built in-house integrations in their local market are blocked from expanding faster as they figure out payroll systems are differently fragmented in their targeted markets. As they aim to grow quickly and want to deliver a good user experience, they validate the necessity to rely on external infrastructure with broader coverage. We encourage all of our prospects to share their expansion plans with us as early as possible so we can prioritise their needed integrations to be ready.
Companies want to build a frictionless user experience that drives conversion to differentiate themselves from competitors. Providing users with a simple link that retrieves their needed data instead of asking them to download many documents is a game changer to engage users. While covering 100% of users depend on companies’ go-to-markets (we are doing it at Rollee with fintech addressing self-employed), Maximising the number of users eligible for data sharing through your integrations is essential to keep a high NPS. Relying on an external infrastructure increases your chance of achieving it.
All companies, especially startups and scale-ups, are challenged to be capital efficient and invest in valuable assets. Relying on an external connectivity layer to reduce infrastructure costs, address new verticals faster and propose a seamless user experience is a strategic choice, and the faster companies adopt it, the lower the risk to impact growth and user experience is.
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